Several donors and allies of DeSantis have questioned whether he has the stomach for a fight with Donald Trump for the 2024 GOP nominee. They feel that DeSantis will either need to up his game or hold off until 2028 before mounting a run for President.
During a lunch on Sunday after the annual Red Cross ball in Palm Beach, Florida, a group of 16 senior Republicans, described by one attendee as a blend of DeSantis backers and Trump “skeptics,” discussed the shortcomings of DeSantis should he choose to lock horns with Trump.
“They liked him — many of them might even support him,” the person who was at the event said of DeSantis. “But they thought on balance that his long-term future was better without him trying to take Trump head on.”
“He will get scarred up” by Trump, the source went on to say.
The loyalty of Conservative billionaire shipping goods magnate Richard Uihlein and his wife, Elizabeth, whose $500,000 in combined contribution made them instrumental in DeSantis sealing another term as governor has also been questioned.
A source close to the Uihlein’s said “The brakes are pumped,” adding, “The polling really made different people pause.”
The Uihlein’s have not commented on this matter.
British journalist Piers Morgan said that Trump’s “charism” could also put him on the “verge” of making an “all-time great comeback.”
“He’s a big beast, Trump, he comes after people and it’s very hard – he gives them these attacks,” Morgan said.
“You know what’s powerful – charisma, whether you like Trump or not he’s got unbelievable charisma – but he also has the thickest skin and that’s an amazing quality for a presidential candidate” he concluded.
DeSantis has found himself behind Trump in several straw polls for the preferred GOP candidate.
“It’s 100% possible that we’ve seen him peak already,” said one veteran Republican campaign operative who speaks to donors on a regular basis. The operative believes DeSantis can pull himself back into contention, however his reaction to the indictment question “was really telling about how far behind the eight-ball” he and his team are.
Dan Eberhart, who is a GOP donor and DeSantis supporter, said that DeSantis must meet Trump head on.
“DeSantis shouldn’t ignore him for too much longer,” he said.
Another GOP strategist said the fact that DeSantis can’t make Trump’s legal problems work in his favor doesn’t bode well for him.
“DeSantis is doing a book tour. He’s barnstorming the country, and his polls are going down,” the strategist said. “Meanwhile, Trump’s potentially under indictment, and Trump’s going up. It’s just not a good look for DeSantis.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: LUKE MOCHERMAN
PHOTO CREDIT: AP NEWS
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