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Former President Donald Trump is very confident that no one wants to try to de-throne him as the leader of the GOP—not even Ron DeSantis.
The former president was asked by Yahoo Finance Sunday “what it would take” to beat the Florida governor, who’s viewed as the early front-runner if Trump decides not to run. Trump said that if he were to run, he expects to clear the field.
“I don’t think I will face him,” he said. “I think most people would drop out. I think he would drop out.”
But if DeSantis were to run, Trump said: “I’d beat him like I would anyone else.”
Polling has consistently shown Trump at the top of the 2024 field if he were to run for president, but in a race without Trump, DeSantis has emerged as an early front-runner. In June, a straw poll of the Western Conservatives Summit in Denver even found DeSantis beating Trump.
The two have history. In June 2018, Trump gave a crucial endorsement to DeSantis when the then-congressman was locked in a tight primary with Adam Putnam, the state agriculture commissioner and the more establishment-friendly pick. DeSantis went on to crush Putnam by 20 points and then narrowly defeat Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the general election after a recount.
DeSantis’ first term has been dominated by pandemic response, and part of the reason he’s gained so much support from conservatives is his persistent opposition to public health measures to mitigate the pandemic, such as mask mandates and vaccine requirements.
But while Republicans might be excited about a DeSantis run, voters in Florida—where more than 55,000 people have died from COVID-19—are decidedly not. Nearly 60 percent of Floridians said in a recent poll that they didn’t want their governor running for president in 2024.
DeSantis said last week that he’ll run for reelection in 2022, but he has continued to insist he’s not thinking about running for president—yet. "I’m not considering anything beyond doing my job," DeSantis told Fox News on Thursday.
"We’ve got a lot of stuff going on in Florida. I’m going to be running for reelection next year and we’re also working on a lot of things in the state beyond just the governor’s race."