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Republican senators back DeSantis amid Trump criticisms

A Harvard-Harris survey released early this month showed Trump with a 20-point lead over the Florida governor.

Published: February 1, 2023 3:24pm

Updated: February 1, 2023 3:54pm

As former President Donald Trump ramps up his attacks on his prospective 2024 rival, Ron DeSantis, a host of GOP senators have flocked to defend the increasingly popular Florida governor.

In recent weeks, Trump has loudly warned DeSantis against challenging him for the party's 2024 presidential nomination, asserting that to do so would constitute a "great act of disloyalty" after the then-commander-in-chief backed his first gubernatorial bid in the 2018 primary.

DeSantis, for his part, has largely shrugged off the recent screeds from his fellow Republican. He appeared to troll Trump on Tuesday by remarking on his own successful re-election bid in 2022, seemingly contrasting it with that of Trump's failed reelection campaign in 2020.

Senate Republicans, however, have openly rejected the notion that running against Trump in 2024 would constitute an act of disloyalty.

Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis indicated that DeSantis would likely not be the only candidate in the primary who previously received Trump's endorsement.

"I expect to see a number of Republican candidates for president and a number of them had President Trump's endorsement so I don't see it as an act of disloyalty to run for president, even people on the president's cabinet may get in this race," she said, according to The Hill. "So, it's not a matter of disloyalty... The person who best articulates a future agenda for the country will emerge from Republican primary and it's not a foregone conclusion who that will be."

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, once a member of Trump's cabinet, is also expected to soon announce her candidacy for president in 2024.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, meanwhile, indicated openness to a DeSantis candidacy, saying "[h]e ran an impressive reelection campaign for governor from an important state. It looks to me like he's polling well."

"I think we need some new blood and I think he'd probably qualify," he continued, per the outlet.

While many polls show DeSantis as a clear runner up or close competitor with Trump in the Republican primary, recent surveys indicate that Trump is regaining a solid lead in that contest. A Harvard-Harris survey released early this month showed Trump with a 20-point lead over the Florida governor.

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