Trump is obsessed with Ron DeSantis' disloyalty. Jeb Bush saw what it was like to be staged by a protégé. (2023)

  • Trump calls DeSantis "disloyal" as he appears to be accepting a challenge for the 2024 nomination.
  • The dynamic is similar to 2016, when Senator Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush were in the arena together.
  • Insider delved into the similarities and differences between the duos.

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Donald Trump needs loyalty.

His tenure in the Oval Office for FBI Director James Comey became one of thedecisive moments of his presidency.Rejected by the American people in 2020, Trump lashed out at lawyers, cabinet secretaries, and eventually his vice president, who stayed with him during his chaotic tenure but refused to support his unconstitutional efforts to retain power.

It's fitting, then, that the trait the former president says he values ​​most is already dominating the battle for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. A former cabinet secretary, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, opposes the former president . Another, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is openly flirting with an escape. So did former Vice President Mike Pence, who Trump believes committed the most disloyal act imaginable.

None of them have the history of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Few Republicans have tied their primary wealth to Trump like the two-year governor did. Trump is already furious about the alleged betrayal, although DeSantis has yet to formalize his intentions for 2024. Trump's staff even went so far as to label DeSantis "the apprentice," a reference to the reality show that Trump intended to crown his next business consigliere.

Trump is obsessed with Ron DeSantis' disloyalty. Jeb Bush saw what it was like to be staged by a protégé. (1)

Equipe Trump Facebook/Insider

While Trump has been more outspoken than most about how he views the rivalry, he is not the first Florida politician to go through it.

Eight years ago, former Florida governor Jeb Bush was in a similar situation. Like Trump, Bush has experienced what it's like to see a younger man upstaging him, a man he has worked hard to support.

For Bush, that man was US Senator Marco Rubio.

Bush and Rubio were allies in the Florida government, and Rubio was widely seen as a Bush protégé. So, as both competed for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, eclipsing Rubio Bush, a complicated dynamic played out.

“It's not uncommon for former allies to go head-to-head in the presidential primary – it happens virtually every cycle,” said Alex Conant, founding partner of Firehouse Strategies, who was director of communications for Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign. believe that ambitious young politicians 'wait their turn'."

Of course, Rubio and Bush had a much warmer relationship than Trump and DeSantis. Conant also said that Bush and Rubio attracted different primary voters, while activists see Trump and DeSantis as on the same "lane". But today, just like in 2016, both men from Florida appear to have a path to the nomination.

And despite the differences, the underlying cliché still applies: the student becomes the master.

"It seems like some archetypal stories are happening," Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, who was the top Democrat in the Florida Senate during the Bush days, told Insider. "It's almost Oedipal," he added, referring to the Greek tragedy in which a king unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother.

Trump is obsessed with Ron DeSantis' disloyalty. Jeb Bush saw what it was like to be staged by a protégé. (2)

Phil Coale/Akte/AP

A tale of two rings

Two decades ago, Bush was the leader of the Republican movement in Florida, spearheading school vouchers and tax conservatism. Rubio was a "lieutenant in Jeb's army" who was skilled at articulating his positions, Gelber said.

When Rubio became Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in 2005, Bush presented him with a gold and silver sword and hailed him as a "great conservative warrior." Rubio, then 34, made history as the first Cuban-American to lead the Florida House of Representatives, and Bush said he was ready for the next generation of leaders.

"For me, it was more than literal," Peter Schorsch, a former GOP political activist who is now an editor at, told Insider. "It was King Arthur who gave Lancelot a weapon. That was just the image that defined this relationship.

Bush encouraged Rubio to run for the US Senate and attended his victory party. When Mitt Romney was the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, Bush pressured him to choose Rubio as his running mate. He told PBS that he has a "close relationship" with Rubio and looks up to him.

Still, Gelber told Insider that he doesn't think either man blamed Bush for Rubio's rise. "Jeb created a movement in Florida where Marco was clearly important and where he rose to prominence, but that could be said of all the Republicans who rose to prominence in Florida 20 years ago," he said.

In contrast, the DeSantis-Trump alliance is more about political expediency, said David Kochel, owner of Redwave Communications and chief strategist for Bush's presidential campaign.

“Jeb was much more of a mentor to Marco than Trump was to DeSantis,” he said. "However, DeSantis definitely used Trump's position within the primary constituency to help him."

When Trump was in the White House and DeSantis was a congressman, he frequently defended the president on Fox News about the Russia investigation. When DeSantis decided to run for governor, he wanted Trump's support.

In your book "The courage to be freeDeSantis reveals little about the supportive conversation with Trump. He credits the president with raising his profile, but later writes that a performance in the debate earned him the GOP nomination against his more prominent challenger. He also suggests Trump's nameit was a liabilityin general elections.

For his part, Trump describes DeSantis as “stickfor his support, and told radio host Hugh Hewitt in February that the young, little-known congressman had tears in his eyes -- a questionable portrayal considering DeSantis has a reputation for stoicism.

However, polls at the time showed that Trump's support gave DeSantis a significant boost, and the president would hold several rallies for him. DeSantis ran a Trump-centric campaign that included a viral ad teaching his children about Trumpism.

"I can't think of a candidate in this country who is more attuned to presidential confirmation than Ron DeSantis," White House counsel Kellyanne Conway said on Fox and Friends in August 2018.

When DeSantis became governor, he attended several events with Trump. Today, many political pundits still consider DeSantis a Trumpian or working from the former president's script, citing examples such as his political stunt of bringing migrants to Marthat's Vineyard.

"Trump was a cult of personality and Jeb was a cult of politics," said Gelber.

Rubio shrugged when Insider asked him what he thought about the changing of the guard issues that are now coming to light regarding Trump and DeSantis and how that compares to 2016. "I haven't even analyzed it," he told Insider.

Bush declined the Insider's request for an interview with a representative, and the DeSantis team did not respond to a request for comment.

"Endorsing President Trump is the most powerful tool in political history, and his America First movement has resulted in landslide victories across the country," Steven Cheung, Trump campaign spokesman, told Insider. “He received more than 5.6 million votes in Florida alone in 2020, more than any other candidate or politician in the state's history. There is no one who can remotely generate the excitement and enthusiasm that President Trump has and will do in 2024.”

Trump is obsessed with Ron DeSantis' disloyalty. Jeb Bush saw what it was like to be staged by a protégé. (3)

Chris Carlson/AP

presidential election result

As a member of the first family of Republican politics, Bush was the darling of big spenders in 2016. The political world braced itself for a showdown between two established candidates: Bush and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In the end, it wasn't just Bush's branding of Trump as "low-energy" that came between Bush and the nomination. The other was Rubio, who turned out to be the better fighter.

It would be a bitter fight. The Bush team focused on Rubio's lost votes. During a CNN town hall meeting, Bush portrayed Rubio's youth as vulnerable and called him his follower in Tallahassee.

Rubio hit back harshly during a debate: "Somebody convinced you that attacking me will help you."

Neither Rubio nor Bush would win the 2016 primary. The strategic mistake was that all the Republican candidates attacked each other instead of Trump, Kochel said.

"Somebody had to eliminate Trump, and nobody made the decision to do that because the consensus view - including among pundits and the media - was that Trump would eventually blow himself up," Kochel said.

Assuming DeSantis officially starts, the Trump-DeSantis feud remains one of the most watched stories in 2024.

The feud between the two men began after Trump left the White House. DeSantis gained the spotlight, first defying federal health advice on measures to contain COVID-19. In late 2021, articles citing anonymous sources began leaking that Trump was angry with DeSantis.

The governor did not seek Trump's endorsement for his re-election bid, and Trump nicknamed him "Ron DeSanctimonious". Since then, the back and forth has been heated.

"No one managed the relationship with Trump better than Ron DeSantis," said Schorsch, who endorsed DeSantis's Democratic opponent in the 2022 re-election race. "DeSantis is like the only person who got more out of Trump than Trump got out of them."

Sam Nunberg, a former adviser to Trump's 2016 campaign who publicly fell out with Trump, laughed at the position the former president is now in.

"Think of another time in Donald Trump's career when someone in business that he really helped and eclipsed him, or in entertainment that he cultivated or educated - then that person got into the same arena against him and punched him," Nunberg told Insider. . "Trump has always been the king of his own domain and the stage he has set himself on."

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