"He's an a**hole": DeSantis roasted by former Republican colleagues as Trump snags FL endorsements

DeSantis' former — and current — GOP peers deliver a bruising week

By Rae Hodge

Staff Reporter

Published April 21, 2023 2:56PM (EDT)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis gives a political speech at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, April 1, 2023 in Garden City, New York. (Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis gives a political speech at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, April 1, 2023 in Garden City, New York. (Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

It's been a tough week for Florida's right-wing Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

On Wednesday, his current party peers in the Florida GOP handed their 2024 presidential endorsement to Donald Trump — currently caught up in litigation over a rape allegation — and then his former Republican colleagues in the US House dished out some scorching burns about him to Politico on Thursday. Ouch. 

Here's how it all went down. 

Though his political gearing-up is evident to most watching, DeSantis hasn't formally announced that he's running for president. His forbearance seems to have cost him, however. Trump's priority has been to secure as many of Florida's congressional endorsements as possible before DeSantis openly declares a run, CNN reported. And while DeSantis was busy with a grip-and-grin stop on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Trump was courting the Florida delegation of Republicans over a Mar-a-Lago dinner party.  

The kicker? Multiple Florida Republicans — Reps. Greg Steube, John Rutherford and Brian Mast — announced their endorsement of Trump just 24 hours before DeSantis' Tuesday event to win over GOP hearts in D.C. 

By week's end, several other Florida state lawmakers were beginning to echo those endorsements. 

On Friday, voices online took to theorizing how DeSantis could lose the endorsements of his own state delegation. That's when National Democratic Committee member Thomas Kennedy chimed in. 

"DeSantis passed gerrymandered congressional maps that cut Black districts in Florida by half last year. These maps were crucial in giving the GOP their current House majority. In response, nearly all of Florida GOP House members have endorsed Trump. Another L for meatball," Kennedy tweeted Friday. 

Those stings were followed by another when Michigan's Republican ex-Rep. Dave Trott dished on what he thought of DeSantis after the two sat beside each other for two years on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In all that time, Trott said, "he didn't even introduce himself or say hello."

"I think he's an a**hole," Trott told Politico on Friday. "I don't think he cares about people."  

"He's just a very arrogant guy, very focused on Ron DeSantis," added Trott. 


DeSantis' seeming likability problem, as pointed out by Vice News, isn't something that's likely to go away. Rather, it's quickly becoming a core pillar of his primary opponents' campaign — which gave the world an undeniably awkward ad last week, hinged on accusations (denied by DeSantis) that he eats chocolate pudding with his fingers. 

No, seriously. That's the ad. 

Cringey as it is, the ad is just playing on DeSantis' already pronounced reputation for alienating his allies in socially unfortunate ways. As Florida's Republican ex-Rep. David Jolly told CNN, the delegation's strategy meetings became a place where DeSantis was known to sit in the back of the chamber and talk on his phone. 

"I don't remember a single Florida delegation meeting he attended," Jolly said. "We had lunch once a month, just casually to just catch up. I'm not sure he ever attended a single one. He was not a team player. It doesn't surprise me that he doesn't have much loyalty in the delegation."

A new Wall Street Journal poll released on Friday finds DeSantis' 14-point advantage over Trump from December has plummeted to a 13-point deficit, even as the former president faces mounting legal challenges, both criminal and civil.  

By Rae Hodge

Rae Hodge is a science reporter for Salon. Her data-driven, investigative coverage spans more than a decade, including prior roles with CNET, the AP, NPR, the BBC and others. She can be found on Mastodon at @raehodge@newsie.social. 


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