Former President Donald Trump is reportedly drawing battle lines against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — by blackballing anyone who works for his potential Republican rival.
Trump campaign aide Justin Caporale, who helps lead Trump’s advance team, has declared that anyone who helped with DeSantis’ recent book tour is “persona non grata,” according to RealClearPolitics.
The edict will also be applied more broadly, a top Trump ally told the site.
“It’s a time for choosing,” the source said. “If you work for Ron DeSantis’ presidential race, you will not work for the Trump campaign or in the Trump White House.”
At least one person has reportedly already been barred from a job.
But former US Rep. Mick Mulvaney — who served as the third White House chief of staff to Trump, 76 — told RealClearPolitics that the move could backfire.
“If Trump wins, he’ll need to hire the very best people he can,” Mulvaney said. “Whoever is advising him to exclude folks who support other Republicans in a primary doesn’t have a clue as to how to run a government.”
A leading conservative grassroots organizer also blasted Trump’s reported vindictiveness.
“Even after the most effective Republican presidency, Trump is bringing back the loyalty test,” the source said. “Not loyalty to the country -– but for a single candidate.
“It’s the American people who will ultimately decide who is the next president, and many grassroots see through these desperate pleas for allegiance and instead wish there was a substantive debate about the future of our great country,” the source added.
Still, a former senior Trump administration official downplayed Trump’s threat, saying, “I don’t think, just knowing him, that it’s a serious assertion.
“This is just being done now to try to kill the momentum that DeSantis has — this doesn’t jive with [Trump’]s past behavior,” the source said.
After Trump’s upset 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton, he “was very forgiving” and hired once-vocal GOP critics — including former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli — who later closed ranks around him, the ex-official said.
Trump has been escalating his attacks on DeSantis, 44, since February polls showed the younger man — who’s reportedly planning to launch a White House bid after the Florida Legislature adjourns in May — edging out Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
DeSantis further infuriated Trump during a news conference last week when he was asked about Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation of the 45th president over a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels by ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen in 2016. Cohen has said the money was to keep Daniels quiet about her affair with the married Trump, who was running for president at the time.
“I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair,” DeSantis said Monday.
Trump has denied both knowing about the payment and cheating on his wife Melania with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.
Trump shot back at DeSantis with a social media post that said, “Ron DeSanctimonious will probably find out about FALSE ACCUSATIONS & FAKE STORIES sometime in the future, as he gets older, wiser, and better known, when he’s unfairly and illegally attacked by a woman, even classmates that are ‘underage’ (or possibly a man!).
“I’m sure he will want to fight these misfits just like I do!” he added.
Trump’s unfounded prediction that he was going to be arrested the next day led to a major bump in the polls for him and a surge of campaign contributions.