Trump gloats over report that $50m DeSantis super PAC has been forced to close over ‘rookie mistakes’

DeSantis team had derided group as a ‘scam’ siphoning funds from supporters

John Bowden
Washington DC
Thursday 31 August 2023 22:49 BST
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Louise Thomas

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Donald Trump is using the closure of a “scam” super PAC to score points against his closest rival in the 2024 Republican field, Ron DeSantis.

The ex-president gloated on Thursday that Ron To The Rescue was closing, per a report in the Daily Mail, after having claimed to have raised $50m on the governor’s behalf.

“Wow! ‘A Super PAC set up to back Ron DeSanctimonious with $50 Million, is closing as donors have backed out - while its founder said the Florida Governor’s campaign is guilty of rookie mistakes, and he will now back Donald Trump,’” wrote the former president on Truth Social, quoting the Mail.

Of the group’s founder, he then added: “Thank you to John Thomas, the highly respected Republican strategist!”

But the story is a little bit more complicated than the ex-president has made it seem. Ron To The Rescue was never truly affiliated with the DeSantis campaign, which has instead coordinated with another PAC, Never Back Down. And according to the Mail, campaign officials for the former governor have long warned that the aim of Mr Thomas’s group was to divert funding from official sources.

“We've made clear from the beginning that this was a scam PAC looking to grift off Ron DeSantis and it comes as welcome news they are no longer attempting to fleece our donors,” DeSantis spokesman Andrew Romeo told the newspaper.

Ron To The Rescue’s funding pales in comparison to Never Back Down, which raised $130m in the most recent FEC reporting period.

But Mr DeSantis’s poll numbers continue to significantly trail Mr Trump’s. The former president continues to dominate most early state and national polling by wide margins, taking more than 50 per cent of the vote in some cases and leaving his eight competitors in the dust.

The Florida governor has seen his own ratings sag in recent months, and in one recent survey saw himself tied for second place with a surging Vivek Ramaswamy.

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