Trump fans want DeSantis to step aside to allow former president another White House run
Donald Trump’s kickoff campaign rally in Waco on Saturday featured a gaggle of GOP loyalists from MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell to Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylore Greene.
But one Republican who wasn’t a hot favorite at the sprawling event in the Texas sun? Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida - the former president’s most likely rival in the 2024 Republican primaries.
Many in the crowd told The Independent that Mr Trump still had their support for the top job.
“He’s the only one,” rallygoer David Lee said while dressed in a royal costume he said was in honour of “King Trump.”
Others in Waco were more supportive of Mr DeSantis but said he should wait his turn before taking on Mr Trump.
“DeSantis is great, but I think he needs to let Trump do four more years,” Tammy Pavelka of Waco told The Independent. “He’ll take over the next eight.”
From the stage, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell went further, going directly after the Florida Republican and calling him “Trojan horse Ron DeSantis.”
“The best thing he can do is endorse Donald Trump tomorrow morning,” Mr Lindell told the crowd, to applause.
For its part, the Trump campaign has no love lost for its former ally DeSantis. In recent weeks, Mr Trump has repeatedly attacked Mr DeSantis online.
The Trump campaign recently said working with Mr DeSantis, potentially as a vice president, is a “very unlikely alliance.”
“I’ve never even thought of it,” Mr Trump said earlier this week.
At the Waco rally, amid a sea of Trump memorabilia - cowboy hats, buttons, flags on pickup trucks - there were a few who were more critical of Mr Trump.
Chris, who asked to use only his first name, said that he would rather see Mr DeSantis as the nominee for 2024 because he believes he has a better chance of winning the White House.
To the Austin resident, anyone is better than a Democrat, so the candidate with the best chance of doing so should go ahead.
“I’d rather see DeSantis because he has a better chance of winning,” he said.
While he supported Mr Trump’s policy choices while he was in the White House, he felt that the former president often said such outrageous things that his achievements were ignored.
“Trump’s off-putting to a lot of people,” he told The Independent.
“He gives the media a lot of ammo to focus on things that don’t really matter.” And some at the rally were done with party politics altogether. They just wanted change.
“I don’t rate as a Republican or a Democrat anymore,” Laurie Mogni also said. “I’m a patriot. I want our country back.”