No one is enjoying the public fight between former President Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis more than President Biden, who if he chooses to run for another term may be battling one of the two Republicans.
Biden, showing some confidence after a better-than-expected midterm performance by Democrats in the House and Senate, has gleefully dubbed one “the former defeated President” and the other “Donald Trump incarnate.”
“It will be fun watching them take on each other,” Biden said Wednesday at a news conference following Tuesday’s elections.
Biden’s pithy answer came after NBC’s Kristen Welker asked him which man would be a more formidable opponent in the 2024 election, following DeSantis’s landslide victory on Tuesday’s midterms and the more uneven approach of a number of candidates backed by Trump.
Those results have prompted a debate within the GOP over whether it’s time for Trump to step aside.
A number of Republicans, viewing the results of the midterms, now see DeSantis as the stronger presidential candidate. They fear that if Trump ends up winning the GOP nomination, the party will lose the White House in 2024. Even conservative outlets appeared to turn on the former president: The New York Post’s front page on Wednesday morning featured a photo of DeSantis and his family with a banner headline reading “DeFUTURE.”
Trump has responded to the midterms — and the good reviews for DeSantis — by publicly going after the Florida governor. In messages on Truth Social on Thursday, the former president described DeSantis as an “average” governor and disloyal. DeSantis did not fire back publicly.
Biden allies say the Trump attacks on DeSantis are good news for the White House.
“Oh, this is a ‘Let’s get out the popcorn’ moment for him for sure,” said one ally to the president. “It is for all of us. But no one is loving this more than Biden.”
Robert Wolf, the major Democratic donor who served as the chairman and CEO of UBS Americas, added that Biden has earned this moment.
“It’s gonna be a bit of a food fight and he deserves to enjoy it, period,” Wolf said on Friday. “He’s got an extra hop in his step, and now he’s going to watch a Republican primary that’s going to be insane.”
The simmering battle between Trump and DeSantis spilled out into the open before Election Day, largely because of the former president.
Trump first swiped at the Florida governor during a rally last weekend in Pennsylvania, mocking him as “Ron DeSanctimonious.”
While the attack fell flat with many conservatives, who viewed it as petty with DeSantis running for reelection in a contest days later, Trump has only upped the ante since DeSantis’s huge victory over Democratic former Gov. Charlie Crist.
Trump has suggested DeSantis was ungrateful for the former president’s support in 2018 and has indicated he might share unflattering information about the Florida governor if DeSantis tried to primary Trump.
DeSantis has not publicly responded to any of Trump’s musings, but discord among the potential 2024 GOP candidates is welcome news for Biden, who was already enjoying the fruits of a better-than-expected showing for Democrats in the midterm elections.
One Democratic strategist who worked on midterm races called the GOP infighting the “icing on the cake” after the midterms. The strategist also said it will take some of the pressure off Biden to immediately announce his own plans for 2024.
Susan Del Percio, the longtime Republican strategist who opposes Trump, said the Republican spat takes the spotlight off of Biden ahead of a lame-duck congressional session where Democrats could check a few boxes legislatively.
At the same time, she said, it’s a moment for Biden to have a quiet laugh.
“You guys have made me miserable. Hahaha. Now go have at it,” she said of what the president must be thinking.
Biden has spent much of the past couple of years using Trump as a foil. But more recently —particularly as he campaigned in Florida ahead of the midterms — he has increasingly thrown DeSantis into the mix.
The president and his team have sparred with DeSantis throughout the past year, trading barbs over the Florida governor outlawing mask mandates in the state, signing legislation barring talk of sexuality and gender identity in the classroom and putting migrants on flights from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.
After it was reported DeSantis would send migrants to Biden’s home state of Delaware, the president quipped that DeSantis “should come visit.”
Anita Dunn, a top White House adviser, said at an event last week that DeSantis was a “divider” who sees the world differently from Biden.
But as Trump has emerged as the most outspoken critic of DeSantis, Republicans are sounding the alarm that any feud will only serve to benefit Democrats, especially as the party looks ahead to a Dec. 6 Senate runoff election in Georgia that could determine which party controls the chamber.
“Any talk about 2024 prior to 2022 is not helpful,” former Trump press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News. “It energizes Democrats when you have a Trump vs DeSantis battle.”
All week, Democrats were feeling increasingly energized by the brewing spat between Trump and DeSantis.
“Oh yes, Florida Man 1 and Florida Man 2 having foreplay — of course you’ll watch,” said Democratic consultant Tracy Sefl. “And you can fairly suspect this ends with them declaring their passionate love.”
Via The Hill