Donald Trump is feeling a little better about life this week after new polls showed him taking the lead again from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
But that doesn’t mean he’s letting the beef go.
In fact, he seems to think he’s found a vulnerability – and is striking hard.
Trump took to Truth Social this week to vow “retribution” to his rivals, in another sign that he’s getting serious about holding feet to the fire over challenging him for the presidency in 2024.
The unofficial rivalry between Trump and DeSantis has become somewhat of a defining movement in the Republican party.
Even though DeSantis has not declared his intent to run for President in 2024 and so far seems unenthusiastic about the prospect, it’s clear that people feel he’s a good candidate.
In poll after poll, DeSantis and Trump have been neck-and-neck in a hypothetical matchup for months.
With Trump’s star on the wane and DeSantis rising like a shooting star to the top of the Republican party, it seemed like the era of MAGA was over.
But DeSantis has been doing some dark things in Florida, perhaps even too dark for the ultra-MAGA crew – as Rep Lauren Boebert insists they be called rather than “extremist.”
And as a result, Trump’s star has been rising again.
Seeking an opportunity to re-clinch the top spot in the Republican party, Trump has been pressing the gas on attacks against DeSantis (who he now calls “DeSanctus” rather than “DeSanctimonious”) and ramping up his “I’m better than him” rhetoric.
Late Tuesday, Trump seemed to be having trouble sleeping, and he did what everyone does – he went online to doom scroll.
Something set Trump off, and he went on a raging rant early Wednesday, turning his ire squarely on DeSantis and his supporters.
Trump wrote on Truth, “Failed former Congressman David McIntosh and his Globalist friends at Club for No Growth, who fought me all the way in 2016, and LOST, and then fought me again in 2020 Senate Races in Ohio, Alabama, North Carolina, New Hampshire, plus more, and LOST AGAIN, are now threatening to spend money against me early because their new boy, Ron DeSanctus, the man who wants to cut Social Security and MediCare, has dropped so drastically in the Polls to me. No Growth Members know there will be RETRIBUTION!!!”
Trump threatening vengeance or retribution is nothing new. But how often does he follow through?As it turns out, he never follows through – but his followers do.
Supporters of Trump, both high in government and the average American, are happy to be the standard-bearer of Trump’s feuds.
All he has to do is point and promise vengeance and the dogs of war are unleashed.
In several cases, Trump has unseated Republicans who didn’t show loyalty to him, and people he takes issue with are often flooded with death threats and harassment.
Case in point, Ruby Freeman – a Georgia election worker who was targeted by Trump and his supporters after she testified publicly before the January 6 House committee.
So does DeSantis have anything to fear?That depends on what you believe his motives are.
If DeSantis’s goal is to woo the MAGA crowd and rise to prominence in a cult of personality like Trump, then yes he should be very nervous.
But DeSantis has shown very little interest so far in being popular. He focuses hard on agendas he knows will score big with his supporters and puts his head down to push through, worrying about the optics of it after.
That makes him both devastatingly effective, and dangerous to Trump who can’t comprehend an approach like that.
Whether DeSantis runs in 2024 or not is almost irrelevant at this point – they’re already splitting the Republican party into at least two camps, and healing the rift will require an extraordinary effort.