Trump loses more influential allies to DeSantis
SUNRISE, FLORIDA - Donald Trump introduces Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during a homecoming campaign rally at the BB&T; Center on November 26, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The right-wing Claremont Institute has shifted away from Donald Trump to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The influential think tank played a crucial role in normalizing the reality TV star-turned-Republican politician, but its scholars see a more natural fit with the conservative governor and culture war hawk, reported Vice News.

“They're quite a few [at the Claremont Institute] who personally prefer DeSantis as the next candidate, and I would count myself among that group,” said Charles Kesler, a senior fellow at the think tank whom the governor appointed to execute a hostile takeover of the New College. “On a whole range of issues where wokeness is a threat he has risen to the occasion — rhetorically, but he’s also trying to do something about it legislatively. That combination is quite rare. I would expect DeSantis to be a much better, more realistic and more efficient chief executive than the former president.”

The organization served a crucial role in Trump's attempt to remain in power despite his 2020 election loss, with John Eastman, who was then head of the think tank's constitutional law center, serving as the architect of the scheme that sparked the Jan. 6 riot, but the institute's scholars have moved away from the ex-president ahead of 2024.

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DeSantis has “a lot of his virtues without a lot of Trump’s vices," said Thomas Klingenstein, the Claremont Institute’s largest donor and chairman of its board of directors, who announced last year he would back the governor. “DeSantis understands that we’re in a war, and that’s the most important thing, and if you don’t understand that we’re in a war, almost nothing else matters.”