Both 2020 and 2016 offer us a dark glimpse of where that could go.
If Trump and DeSantis go head-to-head in 2024, there are already polls suggesting that DeSantis wins.
However, the former president has never been one to accept the outcome of a poll that isn’t favorable to him, and he’s already directed a few potshots at DeSantis, for whose success he claims full credit.
In a new interview, Trump reiterated his old grievances about the matchup — he’s argued that it would be disloyal for DeSantis to run against him.
Now, he’s adding a warning: if DeSantis does, Trump says, “we’ll handle that the way I handle things.”
We’ve seen how Trump “handles” opponents — hurling insults and unfounded allegations, ranging from the mockery of one’s physical appearance (Marco Rubio as “little Marco,” for instance) to bizarre allegations, like linking Ted Cruz’s father to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
He’s always willing to dig up dirt on his opposition, even being accused more than once of reaching out to foreign powers to do so.
In the new interview, Trump even hints that his endorsement of DeSantis was based on something other than merit:
“I got him elected, pure and simple…If I said I wasn’t going to endorse [DeSantis]…and you know, there was no reason to go wild about endorsing him.”
Check out the clip below:
Trump today on Desantis: “I got him elected, pure and simple. And there was no reason to go wild about endorsing him .. So, now I hear he might want to run against me. So, we’ll handle that the way I handle things.” pic.twitter.com/rBBYyUtnNW
— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) January 16, 2023
In fact, Trump has been the subject of serious investigations and even impeached over allegations that he tried to use a foreign power to dig up dirt on an opponent.
Robert Mueller carried out an investigation regarding the 2016 Trump campaign coordination with Russia, which included a public call for the country to publicly release emails that he alleged his then-opponent Hillary Clinton was hiding.
That investigation resulted in a lengthy report showing communications between the then-candidate and Russia but didn’t result in any repercussions.
Subsequently, Trump was impeached on accusations of pressuring Ukraine to falsify allegations of wrongdoing against his 2020 (then-presumed) opponent, Joe Biden, in return for aid that had already been promised.
Altogether, the mere promise of inflicting a “handling” on DeSantis, particularly with Trump’s reference to “the way I handle things,” sounds ominous for the Florida Governor’s public image as well as his political career
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.