Potential Trump VP Pick Once Slammed ‘Self-Promoter’ Trump Online

Reuters/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
Reuters/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), considered by many to be on Donald Trump’s short list of potential vice president candidates, used to harshly criticize the former president online, railing against him for his trade policies and birtherism comments about Barack Obama.

The posts resurfaced Friday in a report by CNN’s KFile, which also uncovered decade-old interviews in which Donalds, then a failed Tea Party candidate for Congress, regularly spoke against Trump and defended Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT).

That included a Facebook post by Donalds in May of 2011 in which he insinuated that he was relieved Trump wasn’t going to make a push for the White House in 2012.

“Trump won’t run,” he wrote. “Thank God!”

A month earlier, he grilled Trump on Facebook over his protectionist stances on trade, claiming the businessman was worried about his own wallet more than he was about the country.

“Trump is a huge distraction, and cares more about himself than the country in my opinion,” he wrote, adding that he personally could “care less about him.”

In that same post, Donalds addressed Trump’s loud-but-unfounded claims that Obama’s birth certificate was fake. Donalds suggested that Americans had fallen into that conspiracy much like they did to unfounded theories about the Sept. 11 attacks.

“I don’t question his religion or his citizenship,” Donalds said of Obama. “Quite a few Democrats and liberals still think Bush caused 9/11.”

In another post that year, Donalds wrote that Trump was a “self-promoter.” He also took aim at Obama, claiming he was jetting around the country doing events while “the American people suffer from rising food costs, rising gas costs, rising healthcare costs, rising debt, and a weaker America.”

A spokesperson for Donalds defended the posts in a statement to CNN, calling the network “weak” for running a story on “decade-old posts.”

“President Trump is considering Byron as his running mate because of the Congressman’s steadfast support for the 45th President and his historic policy agenda,” he said, according to CNN. “The fact that these decade-old posts are now resurfacing in the middle of running mate deliberations is weak but typical of CNN.”

Donalds had not deleted the criticism as of Friday morning.

The pointed posts are from before Donalds, 45, was a member of the Republican Party. He was first elected to Congress in 2016 and has been a MAGA loyalist ever since, objecting to the certification of electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania after the 2020 election.

Donalds also grabbed Trump’s attention last year when he endorsed the former president over his own governor, Ron DeSantis, who he’d previously aligned with closely.

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That endorsement, paired with his previous support for the former president, appears to have lifted Donalds into Trump’s inner circle of trusted politicians. He could also be key in helping Trump win over more Black voters in the fall, CNN reported.

Donalds isn’t the only potential VP candidate to have criticized Trump in the past. His fellow Floridian, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), remains on the supposed short list despite him regularly sounding off against Trump as he tried to defeat him the 2016 GOP presidential primary. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), reportedly on the list as well, also criticized Trump’s rhetoric in his first term, calling out his disparaging remarks on Muslims and his misogynist comments.

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