According to a report from the New York Times' Michael Bender and Patricia Mazzei, the simmering feud between Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis burst out in the open over the weekend and was prompted by a campaign ad from the DeSantis campaign that claimed a divine endorsement.
On Friday, Casey DeSantis, the wife of the Florida governor, tweeted out an over-the-top ad with a Paul Harvey-esque narrator solemnly intoning, "And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a protector.’ So God made a fighter,” meaning Gov. DeSantis.
With the ad being widely panned ("Dumbest political ad you could ever make," as one critic put it), the Times is reporting that the former president changed plans to not take on DeSantis and his under-the-radar moves to run for president in 2024 because of the claims made in the ad.
Hence, Trump labeled his top GOP presidential challenger as "Ron DeSanctimonius" during his speech on Saturday in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
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According to the Times, "Mr. Trump has been privately testing derisive nicknames for Mr. DeSantis with his friends and advisers, including the put-down he used on Saturday," before adding, "Mr. Trump has expressed reluctance over criticizing the Florida governor too aggressively before the midterms. But some people close to him said the decision to cast Mr. DeSantis as hypocritically pious solidified itself after the governor’s team released a video Friday aimed at infusing his candidacy with a sense of the divine."
You can see the ad below.
\u201cI love you, Ron.\n\nOn behalf of millions of people, never stop fighting for freedom.\u201d— Casey DeSantis (@Casey DeSantis) 1667572202
The Times reports that Trump reportedly saw that as a threat to the coalition of Christian white nationalists that he has been romancing as he plots his presidential comeback.
"The video seemed aimed at turning Mr. DeSantis into an object of veneration, much as Mr. Trump has for some time been viewed by many Christian nationalists and other fervent supporters as an almost messianic figure," the report states.
Trump's resulting attack on the Florida governor came at a cost though, with prominent conservatives firing back at Trump, including former Mitch McConnell campaign manager Josh Holmes who tweeted, "Nothing like trashing a Republican Governor 4 days before Election Day when his name is on the ballot. #team."
It should be noted that on Sunday, Trump endorsed DeSantis' re-election bid while speaking at Florida rally -- that DeSantis was not invited to.
You can read more here.