(NewsNation) — Former President Donald Trump said Tuesday his endorsements won Ron DeSantis the Florida governor’s seat. But he said DeSantis, now seen as Trump’s primary rival for the GOP presidential nomination, could have been more gracious.
Trump spoke exclusively to NewsNation about DeSantis, midterms and election integrity. Use our Channel Finder page here to learn how to watch NewsNation.
“He was not going to be able to even be a factor in the race,” Trump said, referring to the GOP gubernatorial primary. “And as soon as I endorsed him, within moments, the race was over,” Trump said. “I got him the nomination. He didn’t get it. I got it, because the minute I made that endorsement, he got it.”
DeSantis beat Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam with more than 56% of the vote.
“Then he ran and he wasn’t supposed to be able to win,” Trump said, referencing the governor’s race against Democrat Andrew Gillum. “I did two rallies, we had 52,000 people each one and he won. I thought that he could have been more gracious. But that’s up to him.”
DeSantis beat Gillum by less than roughly 33,000 votes to win Florida’s governor’s race.
NewsNation reached out to DeSantis and his team for a response but had not received a response as of 6:30 p.m. CT.
Trump said DeSantis is a person he has always had a “decent relationship” with. But now DeSantis and Trump are frequently butting heads ahead of a possible matchup for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Both have also signaled interest in a 2024 presidential run. The two politicians have not recently attended the other’s rallies with Trump recently calling DeSantis “DeSanctimonious” at a campaign event.
A recent ABC News/Ipsos poll published last month found that DeSantis topped Trump when GOP voters were asked who they trust to guide the party into the future.
Trump also discussed his endorsements ahead of the midterms, saying that even if a candidate does well, he doesn’t think his endorsements will be given due credit.
“Well, I think if they win, I should get all the credit,” Trump said. “If they lose, I should not be blamed at all, but it’ll probably be just the opposite.
“When they win, I think they’re going to do very well, I’ll probably be given very little credit, even though in many cases, I tell people to run, they ran and they turned out to be very good candidates. They’ve turned out to be very good candidates,” Trump said.
“But usually what would happen is, when they do well, I won’t be given any credit. And if they do badly, they will blame everything on me. So I’m prepared for anything, but we’ll defend ourselves.”
The exclusive interview comes after Trump teased a “big announcement” coming next week, after the midterms.
“I’m going to be making a very big announcement on Tuesday, November 15 at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida,” the former president said Monday night at a rally in Dayton, Ohio.
Republican momentum has surged in the weeks leading up to the midterm elections. The GOP is now favored to gain control of both chambers of Congress from Democrats, according to Decision Desk HQ.
In a late-July NewsNation Decision Desk HQ poll, nearly 57% of respondents said Trump should not run in 2024. They were then asked which candidate they would prefer, but in a field that included DeSantis, “Someone else” received the most votes with 38%.
In that same poll, registered voters also rejected Biden’s run for a second term. Sixty percent of people said he should not run again. Like Republicans, no alternative Democrat received a majority of support, with “someone else” garnering 44% of the vote.