Donald Trump rages that Ron DeSantis’s Martha’s Vineyard stunt was his ‘idea’

The former president accused the Florida governor of stealing the limelight from his platform

Johanna Chisholm
Monday 19 September 2022 12:16 EDT
DeSantis says Florida ‘not a sanctuary state’ as he defends Martha’s Vineyard migrant flights

Donald Trump is privately raging at fellow Republican Ron DeSantis over the governor’s decision to authorise flights carrying roughly 50 migrants last week from the southern border to Martha’s Vineyard, Rolling Stone reported.

The Florida governor patted himself on the back over the weekend while delivering a speech in Wisconsin to stump for GOP candidates, announcing that he intended to tap “every penny” from the $12m “Freedom First” budget allocated to the Florida Department of Transportation’s efforts to “transport unauthorised aliens.”

And though both Mr DeSantis and anti-immigration sympathisers on Fox News and within the Republican party celebrated the firebrand politician’s actions – with Texas Senator Ted Cruz even calling for governors to increase their controversial relocation programs and send half a million undocumented migrants on to Washington DC – not everyone in right-wing circles was happy with last week’s headlines.

Namely, former president Donald Trump found himself scowling at how his potential rival for the Republican ticket in the 2024 presidential election was dominating the headlines and drawing attention away from his own antics.

Rolling Stone reported that two inside sources close to the twice-impeached president had heard him vent about the Republican governor taking the limelight off Trump and accused him of using the migrant flights to prop up his national profile ahead of a potential bid for the White House.

Neither Mr DeSantis nor Mr Trump have made public commitments to run in 2024, though both men are considered to be frontrunners to challenge President Joe Biden for the Oval Office.

Mr Trump also reportedly raged at his aides in the wake of Mr DeSantis’s highly publicised stunt, noting that the Florida governor had taken a page from his own playbook as he contended that flying migrants on planes from the southern border was “his idea”.

Rolling Stone’s report on Mr Trump privately seething at Mr DeSantis’s rising star is just the latest slight in an ongoing Cold War between two of the most outspoken and divisive figures in US politics.

When polls last summer began to point to the Florida governor’s potential to outpace the man who had once endorsed his campaign, Mr Trump seemed to begin to walk back his full-throated support for the Republican he credits himself as being responsible for landing in the governor’s office.

In June, the University of New Hampshire shared the results of a survey which showed a shocking change of fortune for the former president who for the first time began to trail the Florida governor among likely primary voters in the state.

On the same day those results were shared, the former president took to his own social media platform – Truth Social – to post the results of a separate poll from the right-leaning pollster Zogby. In those results, unlike the University of New Hampshire’s, it indicated that he was the clear favourite for winning the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, 42 points ahead of Mr DeSantis in a survey of GOP voters nationally.

The former president has even struck out at his once-avowed network of preference, Fox News, for airing what he viewed as inaccurate polling results during one of their morning news programs.

“@foxandfriends just botched my poll numbers, no doubt on purpose,” the one-term president wrote on Truth Social back in July, calling out a segment where hosts had presented the findings from both the University of New Hampshire survey and Blueprint in Florida that showed Mr DeSantis being the favourite of the two. “That show has been terrible — gone to the ‘dark side,’” he added.

One of the pillars of Trump’s 2016 platform zeroed in on the country’s southern border policies, with his “build the wall” tagline becoming nearly as synonymous with his campaign as the “make America great again” slogan.

Though he pledged on the campaign trail that he would build a “great, great wall on our southern border” that the Mexican government would pay for, by the end of his presidency his administration had constructed 452 miles in total, according to the latest US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Most of those 452 miles, however, were reinforcing walls that had been built during previous US administrations as only 80 miles of new structures were erected where there had previously been nothing.

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