The political tension between former president Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis these days stems from their presumed mutual ambition to win the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.
However, the relationship between the two Republican right-wing extremists used to be much more cooperative before Trump saw DeSantis as a threat to his return to the White House.
In fact, in a recent interview with progressive activists Scott Dworkin and Grant Stern, Lev Parnas — the Ukrainian-born former associate of Rudy Giuliani who was found guilty of steering illegal campaign contributions to the Trump campaign — revealed that it was his introduction of DeSantis to Rudy Giuliani back in 2018 that eventually resulted in Trump’s crucial endorsement in that year’s Florida Governor’s race.
It was an endorsement that helped DeSantis move to the head of the pack in the race and set him up as a 2024 competitor to his newfound patron.
Here’s how Parnas describes DeSantis’ interactions with him in the months leading up to the 2018 Florida GOP primary race for governor as related in the podcast available on The Dworkin Report website.
“[Ron DeSantis] approached me almost every day, stood behind me and he was told that I’m very close with the president and also close with Rudy Giuliani through the America First SuperPAC.”
“So they told him that I would be a good person to know, and he tried to get to know me and that worked out for him because at that time, there in the president’s, ex president’s, or the former, as we call them nowadays, telling him that Putnam was the guy to go.”
Initially, Trump wasn’t sold on DeSantis, but another GOP candidate had foolishly alienated the former president, as Parnas explained.
“He had his reserves against Putnam because when he was running for president said something derogatory of him and the former guy doesn’t like that and kept the grudge and was really against him. And Ron at the time was, the loudest on Fox, you know, he was the main guy on Fox at the time. So, it was easy. And I relayed a message from Ron to Rudy and Rudy went to the White House and told, the former guy that Ron would be a good guy to run for Florida. And that’s when they had their meeting and he finally jumped on the bandwagon and that’s when Trump came out.
Parnas credits Trump’s participation with a rally for De Santis as being the crucial turning point in the Florida gubernatorial candidate’s campaign.
“And that, that rally for him, which flipped Ron. Because if you remember when he just announced, he was way behind Putnam. And then when Trump threw his support behind them, after that whole thing transpired that nobody really knows. Uh, you’re the first to hear about it. And that’s how Governor DeSantis and President Trump became close.”
Now that DeSantis is a formidable rival for the 2024 GOP nomination for president, Trump may be regretting his earlier enthusiasm for his endorsee, as his recent criticisms of DeSantis’ actions suggests.
You can listen to the entire interview between Lev Parnas and the podcast hosts Scott Dworkin and Grant Stern at here or using this player:
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.