Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is more focused on his own political aspirations over whether President Donald Trump is reelected, Politico reports.
After sitting down with the governor and interviewing more than 60 people who have worked with him, worked for him, political analysts, consultants, and strategists, Politico writes DeSantis isn’t the “errand boy” of the president that many describe him as. Rather, he is a “stubbornly independent player whose personal ambition far exceeds any loyalty to the president.”
Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien called DeSantis a “friend” to the president and said the two have a “great partnership.”
A senior administration official told Politico that Trump “is always available when Ron needs him” and that the two “have a very close working relationship.”
Despite pushing for business reopenings amid the coronavirus pandemic and not implementing a state-wide mask mandate, which aligns with Trump’s virus response, some say their relationship isn’t as strong as it may appear.
“Everybody in the White House besides the president can’t stand Ron anymore,” said a Florida operative working in Washington, “because they realize, and now I think the president is realizing, that he made Ron DeSantis, and Ron isn’t really doing anything to help him win Florida. He’s focused on his own political career right now.”
A former DeSantis aide told Politico that the White House views the governor as “all talk and no give.”
A Tallahassee lobbyist said many in the Trump campaign feel that DeSantis “isn’t appreciative enough.”
“The president regularly believes that the governor forgets how good he has been to him,” a GOP consultant noted. “Just about everyone around the president would have Ron’s head on a spike.”
Florida is a swing state in the upcoming election. Trump won the state in 2016. Sources told Politico Trump and DeSantis need each other, but the president needs the governor more in order to win the state again.
DeSantis hasn’t gone out of his way to help Trump’s reelection efforts, according to Politico. He didn’t hit the campaign trail much with the president when he rolled out his reelection campaign last year in Orlando or go out of his way to fundraise for the canceled RNC event in Jacksonville. But he has raised money for Trump’s reelection despite shutting down fundraising for his own political committee, according to Politico.
Trump endorsed DeSantis for office and praised him before he was elected governor. Many say the president expects DeSantis to help him win the state of Florida again.
“There was a stereotype of the guy because he was endorsed by the president that he was going to be and act a certain way,” former GOP state legislator Chris Dorworth told Politico.
A former Florida operative said that if Trump loses the White House “because of Florida,” that “people will know who Ron DeSantis is.”
One of the governor’s longest-serving former aides said DeSantis knows exactly what he is doing.
“DeSantis is one of the smartest, most calculated people I have ever met, and I don’t mean that negatively. He is constantly calculating,” the former aide said. “He does nothing haphazard.”
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