Karl Rove rejected claims by Donald Trump and his supporters that he’s the hidden hand behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ White House bid during an interview on Fox News Radio’s Guy Benson Show last week.
The former president and his leading influencers on social media have claimed DeSantis is the Republican establishment candidate and a RINO Republican.
Associating DeSantis as aligned with Rove has been a way to discredit him with Trump’s supporters.
“Karl Rove has not been good for the Republican Party, and he has led a lot of failed campaigns. But Paul Ryan. That’s another one he likes. And Jeb, of course,” former President Donald Trump said during a phone conversation on America’s Real Voice in February.
Rove Rebuts Trump Camp Attacks on DeSantis
“I’m a myth. I’ve met the man one time. I think it was May of 2021 when he came to speak at a conference that we had here in Texas to reward the volunteers and donors to a big voter registration effort that we had in 2020 and and again in 2022. And I think I maybe exchanged 10 words with him,” Rove said.
“So if I’m controlling him it’s by the superior use of my mind to, you know, to send radio waves to control he and his wife and give them directions and they receive them, I mean, you know, it’s a sign of something that Donald Trump is so worried about.”
Rove said he believes that Trump rightly believes that DeSantis represents a serious threat. Trump has thus far tried to avoid talk of debating DeSantis, dismissing it saying there’s not much of a race between Trump and the Florida governor. He could be afraid of what DeSantis, who has proven to be an accomplished debater, could do to his chances for a non-consecutive term as president.
“It’s different punching up than it is punching down, and Donald Trump is certainly punching down,” Rove said, noting that 2024 will not be like 2016. “I think it is certainly making him nervous.
Rove continued: “The way to deal with Ron DeSantis is to be a better candidate with a better message for the future, but Donald Trump has no message for the future.”
Trump Influencers Repeat False Claims About DeSantis
The former president’s son Donald Trump Jr. similarly highlighted praise that Rove gave for DeSantis to claim that the Florida governor is a puppet.
“Who is supporting DeSantis? Jeb Bush, Karl Rove, Paul Ryan and all of the worst never-Trump globalist donors. Ron is totally owned and controlled by them because he’s a Trojan Horse for the RINO establishment,” Trump Jr. tweeted in March.
Donald Trump Camp Hides Prior Praise For Republican Establishment Figures
Trump and his social-media influencers, however, have failed to inform his supporters that his own 2020 campaign brought Rove in to advise him on his campaign in an unofficial capacity. Rove met with Trump personally during the campaign to offer him advice.
In the past, Trump also praised Ryan.
Back in 2017, Trump spoke in praise of Ryan to the boos of his audience.
“Speaker Paul Ryan, I have really come to appreciate him,” Trump said. “I tell you. He has been terrific. Honestly, he is like a fine wine. Every day that goes by, I get to appreciate his genius more and more.
Trump continued: “He is an amazing guy. We really have some amazing things in store.”
The Trump camp’s assertion seems to be one of guilt by association. Logically speaking, if praise for DeSantis by members of the Bush wing of the Republican Party equals support for his candidacy, what then would it mean for Trump to have been defended by his 2016 nemesis former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush?
“Bragg’s predecessor didn’t take up the case. The Justice Department didn’t take up the case,” Bush said following Trump’s indictment by the Manhattan grand jury. “Bragg first said he would not take up the case. This is very political, not a matter of justice.
Bush continued: “In this case, let the jury be the voters”
The fact prominent establishment Republicans praised DeSantis says nothing about their motives, nor about DeSantis’ views. If guilt-by-association is the best the Trump camp has against DeSantis as the campaign heats up, they are going to find themselves on defense going into the primaries.
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John Rossomando was a senior analyst for Defense Policy and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.