Key donors considering backing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ rumored run for the presidency in 2024 are already second-guessing his chances against former President Donald Trump, according to some news reports.
NBC News reported last week that DeSantis may be “missing his moment” as tensions rise with Trump, citing a luncheon event in Palm Beach, Florida, that featured 16 prominent Republican donors who “liked him,” but have deep concerns surrounding his recent attacks on Trump and doubts about whether he can handle the reigning GOP heavyweight in a primary fist fight.
“They thought on balance that his long-term future was better without him trying to take Trump head on,” one attendee reportedly said.
“He will get scarred up” by Trump, the source added.
NBC News reports:
A number of the Florida governor’s donors and allies are worried his recent stumbles suggest he may not be ready for a brutal fight against Donald Trump. Some feel DeSantis needs to accelerate his timeline to run for the GOP presidential nomination and begin directly confronting Trump if he’s to have any chance of thwarting the former president’s momentum. Others believe DeSantis should sidestep Trump altogether and wait until 2028 to run.
At a Sunday luncheon following the annual Red Cross ball in Palm Beach, Florida, a group of 16 prominent Republicans, described by one attendee as a mix of DeSantis backers and Trump “skeptics,” discussed misgivings about the governor’s standing for the future if he tussles with the former president.
“They liked him — many of them might even support him,” the person who was at the event said of DeSantis. “But they thought on balance that his long-term future was better without him trying to take Trump head on.”
Then there’s conservative billionaire shipping goods magnate Richard Uihlein and his wife, Elizabeth, whose $500,000 in combined contributions ranked them among the most generous donors to DeSantis’ 2022 re-election campaign.
A person familiar with the strategy around Uihlein’s spending said that right now, “The brakes are pumped,” adding, “The polling really made different people pause.”
Another Republican strategist said that DeSantis’ shadow campaign – which has included a full-fledged book tour of the country – is a bad look for the governor, especially while Donald Trump is facing a politically-charged indictment.
Earlier this month, DeSantis vowed not to get involved in the case.
DeSantis on Trump indictment: “We are not involved in this, won’t be involved in this.” Calls it a ‘manufactured circus’ by a Soros DA. Adds “I’ve gotta spent my time on issues that actually matter to people, I’m fighting for Floridians” pic.twitter.com/w4ogMxiwM3
— Jack Poso 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) March 20, 2023
During the same press conference, DeSantis also seemingly took shots at Trump, saying he does “not know what goes into” paying hush money to porn stars.
BREAKING NEWS: Gov. Ron DeSantis roasts former President Trump for Stormy Daniels drama: "I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair…" pic.twitter.com/KL2RW3ST9j
— Forbes (@Forbes) March 20, 2023