The Ups And Downs Of Donald Trump And Ron DeSantis' Relationship On The Campaign Trail

When the whispers began about Ron DeSantis' interest in the 2024 presidency, Donald Trump didn't mince words: "If I faced him, I'd beat him like I would beat everyone else. I think most people would drop out; I think he would drop out," the former president said to Yahoo! Finance in 2021. Trump's words drew a clear battle line, but DeSantis stepped into the ring nonetheless.

Many had assumed that the Florida governor wouldn't eventually contest against Trump in the primaries. After all, he'd earned a name as "the most pro-President Trump candidate possible," per The Washington Post, during his 2018 governorship campaign. He even supported the most questionable of Trump's policies when he became governor. In return, Trump supported him, often praising his leadership. "Ron DeSantis, who's done a spectacular job in Florida. He enjoys very high popularity, and that's for a reason. The reason is he's doing a good job," Trump shared in a 2020 statement. However, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis' relationship drastically changed the moment the latter announced his presidential campaign in May 2023.

Trump attacked DeSantis from multiple angles with Republicans cheering him on

It started with the nickname Donald Trump gave to Ron DeSantis in November 2022. While not a particularly witty attack, it was hard to be seen as a valid political adversary when the leading Republican candidate and his horde of fans called him "Ron DeSanctimonious." Soon, DeSantis began to fire back at Trump's attacks, calling his insults and names "juvenile" and "petty" on the radio.

However, he refrained from direct attacks, perhaps in a bid to avoid angering MAGA supporters. Trump, on the other end, continued to garner loud support each time he sent a "juvenile" punch DeSantis' way. In May 2023, he said, "The problem with Ron DeSanctimonious is that he needs a personality transplant, and those are not yet available" (via X, formerly Twitter). He also attacked his governing legacy: "Under Ron DeSantis, Florida has become among the worst states... to live," Trump wrote in a campaign email, via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

DeSantis also tried to reason with the MAGA crowd, pointing out errors in Trump's promises. For example, when Trump promised to restore conservative policies in six months, DeSantis asked why he hadn't done it in four years (via X). He further tried to attack Trump's credibility, saying on "NBC News," "With Donald Trump, if you don't kiss the ring, you can be the best governor ever, and he'll trash you. You can be a terrible corrupt politician, but if you kiss his ring, then all of a sudden, he'll praise you."

Trump attacked Ron DeSantis' masculinity

Donald Trump's campaign strategy also went to great lengths to emasculate Ron DeSantis. It started with Trump telling everyone how he helped him become governor. "He said, 'If you endorse me, I'll win,' and there were tears coming down from his eyes" (via People). Trump also accused DeSantis of wearing lifts in his boots and even did a funny walk to imitate him (via YouTube). This slightly backfired, considering it resulted in theories about Donald Trump's toe pads

Trump even said that DeSantis couldn't handle the presidency. "Ron DeSanctimonious will be indicted, and he's not gonna handle it the same way as I am. He'll be in the corner crying, saying, 'Mommy, mommy, I wanna go home'" (via Facebook). This caused the audience to laugh quite a bit. Considering the different types of attacks from both politicians, it's no surprise that DeSantis gave in as Trump predicted. It is, however, shocking that the governor endorsed Donald Trump again in January 2024 after suspending his campaign.