Trump expressed confidence that he would “win” any potential primary challenge from DeSantis in an interview published by The New Yorker on Monday. While neither Trump nor DeSantis has officially announced that they will run for the presidency in 2024, speculation about a potential showdown has been building.
The former president said he was “very close to making a decision” on his own candidacy.
“I don’t know if Ron is running, and I don’t ask him,” Trump told The New Yorker. “It’s his prerogative. I think I would win.”
Trump also reportedly said that DeSantis “wouldn’t have won” the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election if not for his endorsement.
Tensions between Trump and DeSantis have recently been heightened, with the former president having argued that the Florida governor would either “drop out” or not run against him in 2024 on multiple occasions last year.
Earlier this year, Trump seemingly took a veiled shot at DeSantis as being “gutless” for refusing to disclose whether he had been given a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.
Although there have been multiple indications that DeSantis’ popularity has been growing among Republicans while Trump’s influence over the party is losing steam, the former president is still viewed by most as the top 2024 GOP contender.
In national polls that feature both Trump and DeSantis as 2024 candidates, the former president has generally been far ahead of the field, although the Florida governor is the clear favorite for second place and usually leads in polls that do not include Trump.
A Rasmussen Reports poll from February found that 47 percent of likely GOP voters would back Trump for the 2024 nomination, while DeSantis was supported by 20 percent. Trump had the support of 30 percent in a Harvard CAPS-Harris poll from May, with DeSantis trailing far behind at 8 percent.
However, DeSantis has recently topped Trump in multiple straw polls and other surveys indicated that he could represent a stiff challenge and potentially upend the former president’s hopes for a nonconsecutive second term.
A straw poll taken earlier this month at the Western Conservative Summit in Colorado showed DeSantis narrowly beating Trump as the top 2024 choice for a second consecutive year.
GOP strategist Jim Dornan told Newsweek last month that DeSantis may have a better overall chance of becoming the next president than Trump, due in part to less “boorish behavior and name calling.”
“DeSantis has a better shot, in my opinion,” said Dornan. “Trump versus Biden would be a toss-up—a total ‘hold your nose’ contest. DeSantis hasn’t pissed off as many people as Trump. He’s Trump without, mostly, the personality baggage.”
Newsweek reached out to the office of DeSantis for comment.