TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — There was silence from the governor's office Friday after former President Donald Trump ripped into his GOP colleague in a statement the day before.
Trump, expected to announce a new bid for president, alleged Gov. Ron DeSantis was disloyal. Some now see the attack as the start of the 2024 presidential primary.
Trump's statement came after national media gave DeSantis days of coverage for his major re-election in Florida and buzz that a presidential run may follow.
"Everybody loves him," Renee Koz, a DeSantis supporter said Tuesday night. "So, why not?"
In his 475-word statement, Trump called the governor an "average" Republican and alleged he was disloyal for not unquestionably dismissing a White House run. That's after Trump gave DeSantis a 2018 endorsement.
Former President Donald Trump goes off on @GovRonDeSantis in latest statement: “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…” pic.twitter.com/f8RgnDdlYj— Forrest Saunders (@FBSaunders) November 10, 2022
"And now, Ron DeSanctimonious is playing games!" Trump wrote. "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."
Trump is expected to, officially, launch his third presidential bid at Mar-a-Lago next week.
University of South Florida Professor Josh Scacco, a political communications expert, thinks the former president's statement is an early attempt at clearing the 2024 primary field.
"In many ways, the presidential primary has already begun," Scacco said. "And so what you see here is former President Trump, who's looking to launch a bid for the White House, is beginning the process of defining his likely opponents."
Despite repeated requests for comment, the governor's office has yet to respond. Scacco thinks officials will stay silent for now. Commenting, he said, detracts from the positive press on election success and hurricane recovery.
It's the same for many other Republicans in the state, not wanting to get between the two Florida dynamos.
Former state Rep. Anthony Sabatini is not among them, however.
The firebrand, who supports both politicians, said he’s siding with Trump on this one.
"You know, I can understand, Donald Trump feels very betrayed, and there's nothing wrong with that," Sabatini said. "He's got more energy and focus now than he's ever had. I think he's definitely ready to win. I like Ron DeSantis, but I think he should run in a different election cycle."