Former President Donald Trump will attack Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for being the “embodiment of the political establishment” and a war hawk on Ukraine, Trump insiders told the Daily Caller.
DeSantis has yet to announce a 2024 run, but Trump has already issued an onslaught of criticisms on why the Florida governor would not be the right choice for president, calling him “Ron DeSanctimonious” and saying DeSantis running for president would be a “mistake.” (RELATED: Trump Says DeSantis Running In 2024 Would Be ‘A Mistake’)
Leading up to 2024, Trump’s rhetoric against DeSantis will continue to point out that the governor is a part of the “establishment” because he does not differentiate himself from other Republicans in the field and takes on issues that don’t require “courage,” a source close to the Trump campaign said.
The Caller granted anonymity to sources familiar with Trump’s thinking to allow them to speak openly on a sensitive matter.
“It does not take bold leadership to oppose critical race theory in 2023. Donald Trump himself issued an executive order banning critical race theory in the federal government … It doesn’t show that you’re anti establishment at all to take an issue that every Republican agrees on,” the source said.
The “establishment” jab will mention those who support DeSantis, a Republican operative close to the Trump campaign told the Caller.
“President Trump is calling Ron DeSantis an establishment candidate because he is getting establishment support. Fox News is the Republican establishment. Fox News is all in on Ron. The donor class is all in on Ron. Jeb Bush and Karl Rove are boosting Ron. He is getting support from all corners of the party that Trump defeated in 2016. He will defeat them again,” the Republican operative said.
On Ukraine, Trump will tout that he is the only Republican candidate that has proposed a strategy of peaceful negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, the operative familiar with the Trump campaign continued.
“Trump stands out as the least hawkish Republican on Ukraine and he will focus on exposing Ron as being out of step with many Republican voters on this issue,” the operative said. “Has Ron come out and said he wants an end to military aid in Ukraine and a peace deal? No. He has simply called for more blank checks. That’s the same rhetoric as Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley.” (RELATED: On Ukraine, Trump May Have Just Set Himself Apart From His 2024 Rivals)
Trump has maintained that he could solve Russia’s war on Ukraine within “24 hours,” but refused to tell the Caller what exactly he would do, because he’s not president yet.
“I’m not going to tell you that because if I told you that, I probably wouldn’t be able to do it,” Trump said about his “24 hour” plan.
Trump’s foreign policy approach will also mention his approach on raising tariffs — something DeSantis has not spoken about, according to those close to Trump.
“You never hear Ron DeSantis ever talk about the issue of tariff and our trade deals — you’ve never heard him say that he wants to raise tariffs,” the source close to the Trump campaign said. “Ron DeSantis, during his time in Congress, was an absolute free trader.”
Tariffs were a way for Trump to differentiate himself from the Republican field in 2016, and he’s “going to hone in on the tariff issue” again this time around, the source added.
Beyond defining himself on foreign policy and being a political outsider, Trump is also planning to wage a line of attack on DeSantis’ COVID-19 response, his previous actions on Social Security and Medicare and personal attacks on the governor, the source close to the campaign told the Caller. (RELATED: Trump’s Line Of Attack On DeSantis Could Backfire In A Major Way)
“Just the general idea of Ron DeSantis as this complete and utter hypocrite and fraud is going to be a big part of Trump’s message,” the source said.
“Voters in our party did not agree with the elites in our party when it came to cutting Social Security. Our voters understand that they themselves have paid into Social Security — it’s not welfare. Go look at Ron DeSantis’ record when he was in the House, he routinely voted to slash Social Security benefits,” the source added.
DeSantis has largely stayed away from commenting on Trump’s attacks, but told the Daily Caller’s chief national correspondent Henry Rodgers that he has “people attacking” him from “all angles” and that the verdict is ultimately up to the “people.”
DeSantis’ team did not immediately respond to an inquiry from the Daily Caller.