April 16, 2024

Republican lawmakers are recoiling from former President Donald Trump‘s repeated attacks against Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), believing it is signaling the beginning of a vicious primary that will weaken the GOP’s top candidates heading into the 2024 election.

Trump is already building an extensive opposition file against the Florida governor, whom he views as his biggest threat, ahead of the general election, focusing his attacks on his previous voting record and policy stances. Now, his team has taken the barrage a step further by filing an ethics complaint against DeSantis, accusing him of running a “shadow presidential campaign” in violation of state election laws.

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The lawsuit was filed to Florida Commission on Ethics Chairman Glenton Gilzean Jr. by MAGA Inc., a super PAC aligned with Trump. The PAC argues that DeSantis is meeting with “influential figures” and vetting campaign operatives in early primary states, as well as participating in illegal fundraising. In Florida, officials are barred from running for national office unless they resign from their state positions.

The early onset of mudslinging has GOP lawmakers worried about what a battle with Trump could mean for the party’s image and success in 2024, as Republicans hope to appeal to more independent and less far-right voters.

“I winced in 2016, and I’m wincing now,” Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) told the Hill when asked about Trump’s tactics. “That’s just because that’s not my style. I don’t think you’ll ever take the New York style out of Donald Trump. It’s too much to ask. He’s a fully baked cake.”




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Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., is seen. (AP Photo/Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Larry Brinlee)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), one of seven Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in February 2021, said she is not pleased about the manner in which the former president is going after fellow Republicans this early in the primary.

“Why anyone feels it’s necessary as part of a campaign to be nasty and personal is beyond me,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be. Talk about the issues.”

Trump began flinging insults and dropping not-so-subtle digs against DeSantis since he entered the presidential race in November 2022, shortly after Republicans experienced a less-than-expected performance in the midterm elections — something for which a handful of GOP lawmakers are still blaming Trump and the extreme candidates he endorsed.

DeSantis has yet to announce his candidacy for president, but that is not stopping Trump’s team and his allied PAC from conducting extensive research into DeSantis’s record to build a strong opposition case in the event that the two go head-to-head.

Trump has also resorted to nicknames and comparisons to other Republicans, such as former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) and former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), whom the former president refers to as “RINO,” short for “Republican in name only.”




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Supporters of former President Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign filed a new ethics complaint accusing Gov. Ron DeSantis of running a “shadow presidential campaign” in violation of Florida election laws. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Trump is ramping up his attempts to link DeSantis to centrist GOP members and called him “Ryan DeSantis” while visiting Iowa. His other favorites include Ron “DeSanctimonious” and “Meatball Ron.”

Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) told the Hill that he would prefer if Trump focused more on comparing himself to Democrats and less on ripping into fellow Republicans.

However, Trump’s methods are not a total surprise and should not be to DeSantis, Thune added.

“That’s his style. If you’re going to be in the arena, you should expect that,” he said regarding Trump’s personal attacks on DeSantis.

“Yes, I would like to keep it focused on the issues,” Thune continued. “I think there’s plenty to talk about, lots of contrasts you can draw with Democrats. I’d rather [they] keep their fire focused on them instead of each other.”

If the Florida governor decides to run in 2024, it is likely he will not make a presidential announcement until the Florida legislative session ends in May. He is expected to come out of the session with a handful of key legislative wins that could provide him with a major boost in the primaries.




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Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, right, testifying before the House Oversight Committee hearing on family separation and detention centers, Friday, July 12, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Also on the panel is Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., left. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

He already has an endorsement on his side from Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), the policy chairman for the Freedom Caucus. Roy called DeSantis a “man of conviction.”

“America needs a leader who will truly defend her and empower the people against the destructive force of unrestrained government and corporate excess, profligate spending, and woke cultural indoctrination,” Roy said in his release. “That leader is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.”

Recent polls have varied over who takes the lead in a Republican primary, with several showing DeSantis and a handful more showing Trump depending on the candidate pool or if they are going head-to-head.

In the recent Quinnipiac University Poll, Trump leads DeSantis 42%-36% in a wide field of candidates and 51% to 40% head-to-head.

Republicans are worried that consistent negativity could sway swing voters to vote Democratic, especially college-educated voters and suburban women. As of now, both Republican candidates are projected to fall to President Joe Biden, with DeSantis losing 46% to 47% and Trump losing 45% to 49%, per the Quinnipiac University Poll.

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Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said negative politics tends to backfire, particularly in North Carolina, a swing state that Trump won in 2016 and 2020. He said he “never used it” and “never found it productive” to use personal political attacks to win a race.

“I think it turns off a lot of people that are part of gettable votes for the Republican nominee,” he told the Hill.

 

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Tags: 2024 Elections, Republican, News, Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis

Original Author: Rachel Schilke

Original Location: GOP lawmakers view Trump tactics against DeSantis ‘nasty and personal’