Trump says he will ‘handle that’ if DeSantis runs against him in 2024

Donald Trump has said that he’ll “handle” Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis if he chooses to run against the former president for the 2024 GOP nomination.

“I got him elected, pure and simple. And there was no reason to go wild about endorsing him ... So, now I hear he might want to run against me. So, we’ll handle that the way I handle things,” Mr Trump told the rightwing podcast The Water Cooler on Monday in a phone interview.

Mr Trump took credit for Mr DeSantis winning the governor’s race in 2018.

While Mr DeSantis hasn’t announced a 2024 campaign, he has made statements hinting that he’s planning a run.

During a debate ahead of his November reelection to the governorship, Mr DeSantis wouldn’t commit to serving a full four-year term as governor.

Mr DeSantis is set to release his first autobiography on 28 February – The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival – another hint that he’s planning to launch a campaign for higher office.

The publisher Broadside told Fox News Digital in November that the book will cover Mr DeSantis’s upbringing in a “working-class family, playing in the Little League World Series, working his way through Yale University and Harvard Law School, volunteering for the Navy after 9/11 and serving in Iraq”.

Broadside, a conservative branch of HarperCollins, told Fox that the book “will center on critical issues that brought” the governor “to the center of the debate over the future of our country. He shares his thinking from when he was fighting back against COVID mandates and restrictions, critical race theory, woke corporations” and what the publisher claims is “the partisan legacy media,” adding that the book will also outline “his bold, substantial policy achievements”.

“What Florida has done is establish a blueprint for governance that has produced tangible results while serving as a rebuke to the entrenched elites who have driven our nation into the ground,” Mr DeSantis told Fox in a statement. “Florida is proof positive that we, the people, are not powerless in the face of these elites.”

Just after last year’s midterm elections, a YouGov poll including 413 Republicans revealed that 42 per cent said they wanted Mr DeSantis to be the nominee in 2024, while 35 per cent said they wanted Mr Trump.

Mr Trump went after the Florida governor that same month, calling him “Ron DeSanctimonious” during one of his rallies.

Also in November, Mr Trump blasted Mr DeSantis in a number of posts on Truth Social, writing that he’s an “average Republican governor with great Public Relations”.

“I stopped his Election from being stolen and now, Ron DeSanctimonious is playing games! The Fake News asks him if he’s going to run if President Trump runs, and he says, ‘I’m only focused on the Governor’s race, I’m not looking into the future.’ Well, in terms of loyalty and class, that’s really not the right answer,” the former president wrote at the time.

“Ron came to me in desperate shape in 2017 — he was politically dead, losing in a landslide to a very good Agriculture Commissioner, Adam Putnam, who was loaded up with cash and great poll numbers. Ron had low approval, bad polls, and no money, but he said that if I would Endorse him, he could win,” he added.

“If he did run, I will tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering,” Mr Trump told the Wall Street Journal last year. “I know more about him than anybody other than perhaps his wife, who is really running his campaign.”

In January last year, Axios reported that Mr Trump was blasting Mr DeSantis in private, claiming that he’s ungrateful for Mr Trump’s help and that he’s “dull”.

Mr DeSantis has kept his powder dry, choosing not to attack Mr Trump in return.

On 16 November, Mr Santis said people should “chill out” about the prospects of an intraparty feud between him and the former president.

The Independent has reached out to the office of the governor for comment.