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Trump asking advisers how to attack DeSantis, Pompeo others in 2024: Report

President Donald Trump walks with Governor Ron DeSantis after arriving on Air Force One at PBIA on Nov. 26, 2019. (Richard Graulich/Palm Beach Post/TNS)
June 13, 2022

Former President Donald Trump has reportedly been asking his advisers to come up with ways to attack potential competitors, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other former cabinet members and allies, if he seeks the Republican Presidential nomination in 2024.

Two Trump advisers told the Washington Post on Saturday that they are preparing to fend off an onslaught of former cabinet members and allies if Trump decides to run to retake control of the White House in 2024. Trump sees DeSantis as a particularly strong potential challenger and has begun asking how he should counter the Florida governor and longtime ally, the advisers said.

It remains to be seen if and how Trump may counter any potential challengers. Bob Vander Plaats, the president of the influential Christian conservative group Family Leader, outlined something of a strategy for those seeking to challenge Trump.

“If you come at Trump from the left — say a Mitt Romney approach — I don’t think that would ever work,” Plaat told the Washington Post. “If you came at Trump from the right — more like a Pence or a Pompeo or a Ted Cruz or a DeSantis — then I think people would be willing to listen.”

Trump has won several polls of hypothetical GOP nominees for 2024, though in a recent straw poll at the Western Conservative Summit in Colorado saw DeSantis win more support for a 2024 run than Trump.

DeSantis has reportedly been gathering the support of major GOP donors in recent months. Darren Blanton, a Dallas-based venture capitalist, told the Washington Post that potential GOP candidates need to demonstrate their ability to attract blue-collar Democrats to vote Republican.

“I think DeSantis is the only one besides Trump who has a chance in hell. And I would bet a lot of money on that,” said Blanton, who served as an adviser to Trump’s transition. “At first I thought DeSantis had no chance because he seemed more like an introvert and strategist, but not a charismatic celebrity, and I pretty much told him that to his face. But he has really impressed me by how much better he has gotten.”

People close to Pompeo told the Washington Post that the former secretary of state would be willing to run against Trump, but he hasn’t made a decision yet on whether to run.

Former Vice President Mike Pence may also run. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Pence did not rule out running for the 2024 GOP nomination, even if it means taking on his former two-time running mate in Trump.

Several of Trump’s advisers have also reportedly urged Trump to avoid announcing a 2024 presidential run until after the 2022 midterms because they want the midterm elections to be focused on the records of President Joe Biden and the Democrats who control both houses of Congress, rather than on Trump.

Ron Kaufman, a Republican National Committee member from Massachusetts, hosted several high-profile Republicans at his house in March as part of a New Hampshire state party fundraiser. Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Rick Scott (R-FL) all spoke at the event. Kaufman told the Washington Post “there are a lot of good people who are thinking about it and would like to be president,” though he noted Trump still has key influence in the party.

“Former presidents who can serve another term always have a special status at least for the first two years,” Kaufman said.