On Friday, Gaetz filled in for Rob Schmitt as the host of Newsmax’s Rob Schmitt Tonight and noted that President Trump had just called for Ron DeSantis to withdraw from the race in order to unify the Republican team. A cohesive team would undoubtedly be something that many Republicans would value. As his chairman of the transition when he became governor of Florida, I now have a close working relationship with Governor DeSantis. He is a fierce competitor, exceptionally intelligent, and is probably going to be the last one to fully grasp the fundamentals of this 2024 primary. DeSantis won’t quit, you can count on that. Trump will need to defeat him. It’s usually a pretty good place to start with a lead of almost 40 points.
Then, according to Gaetz, “DeSantis’ own thinking about the viability of a sudden jolt from ‘also ran’ status to frontrunner is itself polluted by his experience with Trump” in the 2018 Florida governor’s race.
Here’s what happened, Gaetz said: “At the start of his initial campaign for governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis trailed fellow Republican Adam Putnam by 20 points or more. His polling increased more quickly than the cost of Taylor Swift concert tickets when he received President Trump’s endorsement, which I confess I assisted DeSantis in obtaining. DeSantis asserts in his book that it was really his debate performances that propelled him to stardom. For each of those debates, I served as DeSantis’ debate coach. Do you know what our main goal was to emphasize? DeSantis, as opposed to the other candidate, could be relied upon to support Trump.
Gaetz has repeatedly criticized DeSantis for choosing to oppose Trump for the Republican nomination in 2024, despite once being close to the Florida governor.
Gaetz tweeted in May, “Though I prefer Trump for President (bigly), the release of these videos by the person operating the camera is disloyal hackery that I do not abide,” in response to videos showing him preparing DeSantis for his 2018 debates.