Trump plans to 'make it painful for DeSantis' to run against him: report
Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis / Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump has his close aides digging up dirt on Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and has no qualms about using whatever they find if it will keep the Florida conservative from jumping into the race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.

According to a deep dive into the deteriorating relationship between the former president and his main challenger hoping to become the face of the party, the Washington Post documents when things started to go downhill between the two and how Trump was convinced to back DeSantis in 2018 — much to his regret now.

As the Post documents, the former president was talked into forming an alliance with DeSantis by his former campaign manager Brad Parscale as a marriage of convenience.

The report notes, "Parscale begged Trump to set aside a public tiff, according to people familiar with the conversation," and that Trump should back DeSantis' campaign, arguing, "that if DeSantis lost his race that fall, it would make it harder for Trump to win the state in 2020. It’s not just for him, Parscale told Trump, it’s for you."

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Trump acceded to his wishes and, now that Trump has witnessed the rise of DeSantis, the former president has been expressing dismay that the Florida governor won't wait his turn when it comes to running for president and appears poised to join the 2024 fray.

The Post reported, "Trump once liked how DeSantis defended him on TV and could advance his own political interests in Florida. These days, he sees DeSantis as an impediment to his bid to return to the White House. 'He’s a young guy,' Trump has told advisers. 'Why would he not wait?'"

As the report notes, Trump's people are ramping up efforts to derail DeSantis plans should he announce.

"On Trump’s political team, DeSantis is widely seen as the biggest threat. Trump advisers have begun to compile opposition research on DeSantis, and several people close to Trump said he wants to make DeSantis think about whether he wants to get into the race," the Post is reporting. "They plan to paint him as aloof and cold. Trump has watched clips of DeSantis debating, particularly against Democrat Charlie Crist last fall, and has given advisers dim reviews of his skills onstage."

The report adds, "Trump advisers say he wants to make it painful for DeSantis to enter the race — and he has repeatedly taken warning swipes," before adding that Trump already has made his feelings known about the Florida governor, telling a reporter, "Ron DeSantis got elected because of me. You remember he had nothing. He was dead.”

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