‘Executive guy’ DeSantis doesn’t want to be Trump 2024 running mate
Ron DeSantis, the rightwing Florida governor and rising Republican star, has said he would not accept an offer to be Donald Trump’s running mate because he is “probably more of an executive guy”.
Related: Ron DeSantis forced into U-turn after calling Ukraine war ‘territorial dispute’
“I think that you want to be able to do things,” the Florida governor told the hard-right Newsmax channel.
DeSantis has not yet entered the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination but he is Trump’s only serious rival in polling and is widely expected to announce his run in the coming months. DeSantis’s growing influence in Republican politics has seen Trump turn his guns on his ambitions.
This week, relations between the two men turned especially sour.
Though DeSantis has dutifully attacked Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney expected to indict Trump, he has also floated criticism of Trump for making the hush money payment to the adult film star Stormy Daniels that is at issue in New York.
DeSantis has also questioned Trump’s governing style and handling of the Covid pandemic. Performing a U-turn on the Ukraine war after widespread criticism of earlier remarks, DeSantis moved away from the isolationist position favoured by Trump and much of the right of the party.
Trump has fired off nicknames, abuse and insinuations about DeSantis’s behaviour around young women as a teacher and even that he might be gay.
Perhaps correspondingly, the former president has increased his polling lead.
Despite all that, on Thursday the Newsmax host Eric Bolling asked DeSantis if he would consider becoming Trump’s vice-president.
“I think I’m probably more of an executive guy,” DeSantis said. “I think that you want to be able to do things. That’s part of the reason I got into this job is because we have action. We’re able to make things happen, and I think that’s probably what I am best suited for.
“The whole [Republican] party, regardless of any personalities or individuals, you have got to be looking at 2024 and saying, if the Biden regime continues, and they’re able to pick up 10 to 15 seats in the House and a Senate seat or two, this country is going to be in really, really bad shape.”
The governor then plugged his book, The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival.
Rather than a primary campaign, DeSantis has mounted a book tour: in part because under Florida law he is supposed to resign his state office to pursue a federal post.
On Friday, the Daily Beast detailed what it said were “a few road bumps” hit by the tour, including the withdrawal of the top event coordinator.
Amid reports of missing podiums and snubbed power brokers, a source described as a “seasoned GOP presidential campaign strategist” told the Beast: “This is amateur hour.” Another “Republican observer” said the operation was “out over its skis”.
A “Florida Republican consultant who has advised DeSantis” said: “I think it’s gone poorly. I hear nothing but they are unhappy.”
Such reports have provoked glee in the Trump camp. In a message viewed by the Guardian, one veteran operative said: “Heard this was coming. No one is running the place.”
Related: Republicans accused by New York DA of meddling in Trump hush-money case
Many primaries feature an early frontrunner who soon flames out. Examples include Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor who went nowhere quickly in 2016, and Howard Dean of Vermont, who crashed out after a strong start in the Democratic race in 2004.
Discussing DeSantis’s decision to take shots at Trump, the anonymous Republican strategist told the Beast: “If you’re running for president … you’re selling to the largest stakeholder audience anyone could have. Why would he go out there … and offend voters that you need?
“I think that they blew it. People need to remember, when you peak too soon, that’s a problem. And DeSantis peaked too soon.”