Former President Trump attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, his leading GOP rival for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination, over what he described as a lack of loyalty during an interview given to Fox News this week.
“I got him elected,” Trump told Fox News anchor Bret Baier during a wide-ranging conversation, the second portion of which the network aired on Tuesday. “And I thought it was very disloyal when he said ‘Yes, I’d run.’ I got him past two races.”
Trump told Baier “I’m a big loyalist.”
“Some people right here in this room tell me sir don’t worry about loyalty, it doesn’t mean anything in politics,” Trump said, gesturing across the room at his New Jersey golf club. “I said, to me it does. I got the guy elected.”
Trump referenced DeSantis’ 2018 Florida GOP gubernatorial primary against Adam Putnam, saying he was “totally dead” until the president endorsed him.
“He fought for me along with [Rep.] Jim Jordan and hundreds of other people in all fairness he was fine,” Trump said of DeSantis’ support. “So I said let’s give it a shot. I endorsed him and it was like a bomb went off.”
Trump also took credit for “getting [DeSantis] past” Democrat Andrew Gillum in the general election.
“Ron said there’s no way I can beat him,” Trump told Baier. “I did three rallies, big massive rallies … he ended up winning. Three years later they asked him are you going to run against the president he said no comment. I said no comment means he’s going to run. I helped him 100 percent.”
Trump has repeatedly attacked Fox over the last several months for its coverage of DeSantis, who is seen as the former president’s chief rival for the GOP presidential nomination.
Trump noted polls showing him with a wide lead over DeSantis in the race for the Republican nod.
The sit-down interview with Baier, Fox’s chief political anchor, is the former president’s first since 2018 and comes just weeks after a federal indictment he was hit with stemming from his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House.
During an earlier portion of the interview, which aired Monday evening on Fox, Trump defended his handling of the documents and clashed with Baier over his claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election.
This story was updated at 6:52 p.m.
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