Poor Ron DeSantis. He ran in Florida's Republican Gubernatorial primary as "the Trump guy," and he won bigly. But publicly contradicting the president may cost him the endorsement.
DeSantis came from far behind in the race by positioning himself as the biggest Trump supporter of the bunch. He even ran an infamous (or adorable, depending on how you look at it) ad showing him reading "The Art of the Deal" to his infant son and teaching his toddler daughter to "build a wall" with her toy blocks. He even dressed the baby up in a "Make America Great Again" onesie. As with everything else in America, how you feel about the ad depends on how you feel about the president. If you're a Trump supporter, it's freakin' adorable. If you're not - well, it's borderline child abuse.
Whatever it was, it worked. Trump endorsed DeSantis (apparently over the objection of some of his advisers) and DeSantis won. But that was then, and this is now. And now the president is irked at the former Congressman. Bigly.
Last week, Trump drew criticism for his Tweets claiming that the death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico had been inflated to make him look bad. DeSantis put out a public statement that “Ron DeSantis is committed to standing with the Puerto Rican community, especially after such a tragic loss of life. He doesn’t believe any loss of life has been inflated." Considering the number of Puerto Ricans who have moved to Florida in the wake of the hurricane, that was probably a smart move.
But Trump is taking it personally. He doesn't like to be corrected. And he values personal loyalty above all other qualities (as a number of Republicans who dared to criticize him publicly have learned.) Now, Trump is saying that he won't go to Florida to campaign for DeSantis.
DeSantis already had a big target on his back. First of all, Florida is a big swing state. Second, his Democratic opponent is Andrew Gillum, beloved by the socialist wing of the party and the liberal media. The press is already framing this race as the battle between the Bernie Sanders backers versus the Trump backers. And we all know which side they want to see win. DeSantis is going to need every Trump supporter in Florida to turn out for him in November. A rally with the president would have been a big help. The president being pissed off at him will not.
This whole episode illustrates what is to me the biggest problem with Trump: he's petty, vindictive and he's making enemies of his most loyal supporters (just ask Jeff Sessions.) He's already destroyed the careers of some great conservatives (Mark Sanford) and driven other Republicans into retirement (Paul Ryan, Jeff Flake, Bob Corker.) He insulted his way through the presidential primary and now has his former victim Ted Cruz groveling for his support. Sniveling cowardice is not a good look on anyone. You wonder why Ted Cruz is facing a tough reelection battle? Maybe it's because he's now praising the man who insulted his wife's appearance and accused his father of assassinating JFK. I can't think of any job in the world worth suffering that kind of humiliation.
As for Ron DeSantis, he may learn the hard way that if you board the Trump train, you can't ever criticize the conductor. EVER. No matter how much MAGA swag you put on your kids.