PHOENIX, ARIZONA – Speakers at Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest conference largely evaded discussing Donald Trump and other potential 2024 candidates.
The conference, hosting nearly 11,000 attendees, was the first major conservative meetup since Trump’s 2024 campaign announcement in November. The former president did not take the stage, but many close to him did, including his son Donald Trump Jr.; Trump Jr.’s fiancée, Kimberly Guilfoyle; and former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Guilfoyle and McEnany did not talk about Trump’s third run at the White House, choosing to focus on his past accomplishments instead. Trump Jr. was the only one of the three to even nod at the former president’s 2024 run, saying Trump could “stand up not just to the Democrats, but the donor class as well.”
The three speakers did not, however, endorse any other presidential candidate from the stage, and did not mention Trump’s top potential rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
When asked on stage who he would support in a Trump-DeSantis matchup, Fox News host and Daily Caller co-founder Tucker Carlson refused to take sides. (RELATED: ‘I’m Not Endorsing Anybody’: Tucker Carlson Says He’s ‘Impressed’ By DeSantis And ‘Grateful’ For Trump)
“I’m not endorsing anybody. I have no idea what’s going to happen in the Republican primary,” Carlson said.
“I spend a lot of time in Florida, and I think Ron DeSantis has done an unbelievable job. I don’t know DeSantis that well, but let me put it this way: people move to Florida because he’s the governor,” he continued.
Carlson also said he’s “so grateful” Trump ran for president in 2016, and that he asked “questions no one around him could answer” about the southern border and commitment to NATO.
“I actually love Donald Trump, as a guy,” he added. “He’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever talked to in my life.”
Off the stage, Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley also refused to endorse Trump or DeSantis for 2024, telling the Daily Caller, “That’s what we have primaries for.”
Republican Florida Reps. Matt Gaetz and Byron Donalds both told the Caller they favor Trump over DeSantis.
“I helped run Ron DeSantis’ campaign. I was the chairman of Ron DeSantis’ transition, but I am voting for Donald J. Trump in 2024 and any time his name is on the ballot,” Gaetz told the Caller.
“Ron will be president one day. He’s a great guy, a great leader, but in this moment, President Trump has a unique ability to marshal the populist energy that can break through the corrupt establishment,” he added.
“Donald Trump is the guy. He’s the guy. He’s the leader of the clubhouse. Ron DeSantis is great — great governor, my governor — but right now, there’s one person running. It’s Donald Trump. That’s it,” Donalds said.