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One Florida resident has threatened to take drastic action if Gov. Ron DeSantis abandons the state to run for president in 2024.
That resident, legendary GOP operative Roger Stone, told Miami/Ford Lauderdale station WFOR last week that he wants DeSantis to stay put, period, assuming of course that he wins reelection next year.
“Look, I have no illusions about my ability to become elected governor of Florida. That’s not the point here. I believe that Gov. DeSantis, assuming he’s going to run for reelection, should pledge to the people of Florida that he will fill out all four years of a second term,” he said.
“What I don’t want to see is for him to be re-elected and then immediately abandon Florida to run off and run for president, particularly if he’s running against Donald Trump.”
This prompted the WFOR interviewer to ask, “Are you saying that even if Donald Trump were to ultimately decide not to run, that Ron DeSantis should be precluded from running for president — that he should remain here for four years, regardless of whether Donald Trump is the nominee or not?”
What the interviewer appeared to be trying to determine was whether Stone’s ultimatum was based more-so on him desperately wanting DeSantis to stay or on his loyalty to former President Donald Trump.
The GOP operative replied in a way that initially suggested his proposed stunt was about keeping the state’s best governor at the helm.
“I think it would be disingenuous to run for reelection if you don’t didn’t intend to fulfill the job. I just don’t think Florida should be a stepping stone to the presidency, you know, for any person. I’d like to know that he is going to stay here and do the job,” he said.
However, what Stone said next suggested that he has some sort of beef with the governor.
“What evidence do you have that suggests that there may be an opening for you among those who are dissatisfied with him, and how many do you believe are dissatisfied with him on the right?” the interviewer asked.
“Well, the people who love Ron DeSantis the most of course [are] the people who have never met him,” the GOP operative responded condescendingly.
“It would be nice if he said thank you to some of his donors or if he’d actually meet with the voters. He seems to be allergic to people. But you know, perhaps that’s just a different campaign style.”
It’s not clear why he feels such clear-cut animosity toward DeSantis. What’s known is that he’s been trash-talking the governor all week on the social media platform Gab.
“Governor Ron DeSantis is clearly now taking dietary tips from Chris Christie – Why does Ron allow the largest counties in the state to thumb their nose at him and mandatorily mask our children while Ron does NOTHING .I guess he’s been too busy out of state raising money for his upcoming presidential bid #,” he wrote in one Gab post.
Further, it turns out that the threat he issued to WFOR was the second ultimatum he’d made in the span of a week.
“If Gov. Ron DeSantis does not order a full audit of the Florida 2020 vote, I may be forced to seek the Libertarian Party nomination for governor in 2022. And Ron can kiss his arrogant Yalie ass goodbye #DefendFlorida,” he wrote on his Telegram account last Sunday, according to Business Insider.
A couple days later, the governor announced the creation of an Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Florida Department of State.
Stone responded by calling it a “first step” but doubling down on his desire for an audit:
According to the Sun-Sentinel, the governor is refusing to entertain an audit and had his spokeswoman resend a statement from Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee noting that the 2020 election “was accurate, transparent, and conducted in compliance with Florida law.”
Some believe Stone’s threats and rants are a direct message from Trump, who they argue resents both governor’s rising star and his refusal to humor the former president’s claims of election fraud.
Indeed, according to reports, the GOP operative has been demanding DeSantis pledge his fealty to the former president, which is kind of strange.
“I would also like the governor to declare his support for a 2024 presidential bid by President Trump which he has not done. I cannot speculate as to why the governor has not urged the former president to run but I feel strongly that President Trump would be the strongest candidate,” he said last week to the Sun-Sentinel.
It’s not clear how the GOP base will ultimately respond to these attacks. On one hand, many of them remain loyal to Trump. On the other hand, stunts like this could prevent the Republican Party from recapturing the White House in 2024 just as they’d prevented the GOP from winning the two Senate seats that were lost in January.
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