The Battle for 2024: Trump vs DeSantis in the Republican Primary

Former President Donald Trump has been waging a fierce battle against his former acolyte, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, in the early stages of the 2024 Republican presidential primary. Trump has been hitting DeSantis in speeches and interviews, attempting to derail the governor’s campaign before it even begins.

Trump has been painting DeSantis as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and a disciple of former House Speaker Paul Ryan, and comparing him to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee. He even went as far as to say he regretted endorsing DeSantis during his 2018 bid for governor.[0]

DeSantis, however, has so far avoided engaging with Trump, telling Fox News, “He used to say how great of a governor I was. And then I win a big victory and all of a sudden, you know, he had different opinions. And so you could take that for what it’s worth.”[1]

The Florida governor also scored an impressive 52%-to-27% lead over Trump among registered Republicans surveyed, with Nikki Haley and Mike Pence far behind in the low single digits. 59% of registered Republicans stated they would vote for DeSantis and 28% said they would vote for Trump if there was a head-to-head race between the two.[2]

Trump’s fiercest rival in the primary, Nikki Haley, has also largely avoided going directly at her former boss in the early weeks of her campaign.[0] Instead, her swipes at Trump have mostly been implied.[0] Mike Pence has also been vocal in his criticisms of Trump, calling out the former president for trying to overturn the 2020 election and for the events of Jan. 6, when a pro-Trump mob violently stormed the Capitol.[0]

It remains to be seen whether the early skirmishes between Trump and DeSantis will be indicative of the upcoming primary season. However, with Trump’s attacks on DeSantis and Haley’s veiled criticism of Trump, it appears that the Republican primary is already beginning to heat up.

0. “Nastiest primary yet? Trump raises question with DeSantis attack” WKRN News 2, 14 Mar. 2023,

1. “Donald Trump Has Reportedly Developed an Extremely On-Brand Strategy He Believes Will Take Down Ron DeSantis” SheKnows, 6 Mar. 2023,

2. “Florida voters back DeSantis, Trump over Biden, but oppose GOP bills on abortion, concealed carry: poll”, 9 Mar. 2023,

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