KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Former President Donald Trump threw a sharp, personal jab at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Saturday, once again escalating the political rivalry between the two Republican presidential hopefuls. Trump described DeSantis allegedly begging for his endorsement in 2018, and called him a "wounded, falling baby bird".
The remarks were made when both candidates appeared at an annual Republican Party summit in Kissimmee, Florida. Those two, considered by some pundits to be the two frontrunners, appeared alongside former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
"He asked me for the endorsement," Trump said in comments reported by The Orlando Sentinel, referring to the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election. "I said, 'you're so far behind that if George Washington and Abraham Lincoln came back from the dead and endorsed you, you couldn't win'. He said, 'they like you in Florida, so very much'...tears flowing from his eyes."
For Trump to make the remarks in DeSantis' home state drives home the consistently large lead he has over the governor, and DeSantis' recent loss of support from key Republican legislators. "My people said, 'sir, don't hit him'," Trump continued. "'He's a Republican'. I said, 'I don't care if he's a Republican [...] He's a wounded, falling baby bird from the skies."
Once regarded as a close threat to Trump's second re-election campaign, DeSantis has recently fallen further behind in the polls in national and early primary states. Like other Republican hopefuls, DeSantis' campaign may be hinging on the potential legal consequences for Trump in several high-profile lawsuits filed against the ex-president.