WASHINGTON (TND) — There is still a long way to go before the 2024 elections but voters are already seeing a possible preview of what lies ahead for the Republican party.
The gloves came off at a rally over the weekend and it could be a fight that does a lot of political damage from within.
“They keep saying, ‘I think DeSanctus can do okay with farmers. I don't think so based on polls, he’s not doing ok with anything,” former President Donald Trump shouted during a rally in Waco, Texas.
It's the latest in a series of incidents where Trump has tried to belittle Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis — a potential candidate who has not yet announced but is now getting heightened national attention regardless, thanks to the former president.
“I'm not, I’m not a big fan,” he added. “But we’re doing really well."
Trump cited some survey numbers, saying "69 for Trump and I think 18 or 19 for ‘DeSanctimonious,'" likely referring to a 2022 CPAC straw poll that put him well in the lead compared to DeSantis' 24%.
But even many Trump fans fell a bit silent, not embracing the DeSantis bashing which could be more rhetoric than reality. Axios points to new exclusive polling showing DeSantis highly competitive with Trump in early states where voters often pay more attention. DeSantis is leading Trump by 8 in Iowa and tied in New Hampshire.
According to the latest Quinnipiac poll, 46% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters would support Trump, 32% would support DeSantis and other candidates would register at 5% or less.
“They know that elections have not gone the way they hoped, and they had believed Trump for years that he was a winner and yet he has failed to deliver wins recently," Lara Brown, political scientist and author of Jockeying for the American Presidency told Sinclair. “And that makes many of Trump’s followers sort of pause and say, ‘this is a man who is winning, who maybe we do want to support and follow and nominate’.”
DeSantis says it will be May before any sort of public decision is made. Meanwhile, he’s trying to shore up his conservative credentials, soon signing a school choice bill in Florida giving parents more power which is another Republican trademark as of late.
The Florida governor has generally laughed off the recent spate of Trump attacks.
“I don't know how to spell 'DeSanctimonious'. I don't really know what it means. But I kind of like...it's long, it's got a lot of vowels. I mean, so we can go with that. That's fine. You know you can call me, you can call me whatever you want. I mean just as long as you, you know, also call me a winner," DeSantis shot back during a recent interview.
It’s a title both men are fond of assigning themselves, although only one can do so in 2024.