Donald Trump is going to run for president in 2024 and he’s trying to clear the field of potential rivals early. That is the only explanation for his behavior at a campaign rally in Latrobe, Pennsylvania on Saturday evening. I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that he sounds as though he will announce his candidacy soon, possibly just days after the midterm elections next Tuesday. It’s a mistake.

Let me say right away that I voted twice for Donald Trump and I will vote for whomever gets the Republican nomination for president in 2024. I’m a lifelong Republican and that hasn’t changed. Democrats are unacceptable to me. Here’s the thing – there is an election on Tuesday. For someone like Trump, arguably the most popular Republican in the country, to mock other big-name Republicans like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is running for re-election, just days before Election Day is wrong. The party needs to be united, not divided, to defeat Democrats in the biggest red wave possible next week. Republicans have to send a message to Democrats that their time in control of Congress is over and hold on to a majority of gubernatorial seats.

Trump is trying out a nickname for Governor DeSantis – he refered to him as Ron DeSanctimonious. Was it because of the campaign ad released last week on his wife, Casey’s Twitter account?

Democrats and the media went nuts. How dare Ron DeSantis compare himself to God. Does he think God put him here to be president, they asked? It’s along the lines of an old Paul Harvey speech titled “So God Made a Farmer.” Maybe Trump was referring to that ad. Who knows? Trump endorsed DeSantis when the governor ran for his first term and now that there is buzz that DeSantis may have presidential ambitions, Trump is upset. It looks as though he intends to mock DeSantis as he did other Republicans who ran in the 2016 GOP presidential primary. He also took a swipe at Mike Pence during the rally in Pennsylvania. He made a veiled slam against Ted Cruz but took it easier on Cruz than he did DeSantis or Pence.

“We’re winning big in the Republican Party for the nomination like nobody’s ever seen before,” Trump told a crowd in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, on Saturday night before going down the list of other Republicans who could potentially challenge him in 2024.

“There it is, Trump at 71%, Ron DeSanctimonious at 10%,” Trump told the crowd while reading approval numbers of various Republicans.

“Mike Pence at 7, oh, Mike is doing better than I thought,” Trump continued. “Liz Cheney there’s no way she’s at 4%. There’s no way. There’s no way. But we’re at 71 to 10 to 7 to 4.”

Former Secretary of State tweeted out his support for DeSantis after Trump’s remark.

The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board published an op-ed stating that Donald Trump is rallying for Donald Trump.

But as usual with Mr. Trump, the rally turned out to be less for Mr. Oz than for . . . himself. During the rally Mr. Trump showed the results of a recent poll for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.

That was a shot at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for re-election in Florida, which is now Mr. Trump’s home state. Mr. DeSantis is ahead in the polls, but the election isn’t over. Perhaps Mr. Trump thinks that if he can reduce the Governor’s margin of victory on Tuesday Mr. DeSantis will be less likely to challenge him for the nomination.

Ron DeSantis has not said he’s going to run for president in 2024. In fact, earlier this year tried to stop that chatter and called Trump a friend of his.

“He wants to see Republicans doing well,” DeSantis told Fox News in February. “And I think when media is trying to act like he’s upset at me for doing well, I think that’s total bunk. I think they’re just making it up.”

On Sunday Trump campaigned for Marco Rubio in Miami. DeSantis was not there. Trump again said he will probably run in 2024. .

Trump stumped for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and others in Miami, while DeSantis campaigned in Sarasota County and elsewhere for his own reelection bid. Although absent from any mention during his wide-ranging event that he dubbed the “greatest rally we’ve ever had,” the brewing DeSantis rift loomed large as Trump again teased a 2024 bid.

“Now our country is being destroyed. I ran twice. I won twice, and I did much better the second time than I did the first,” Trump proclaimed at the rally, iterating his disputed claims the 2020 election was stolen. “In order to make our country successful, safe, and glorious, I will probably have to do it again.”

As I said, we don’t know if DeSantis intends to run in 2024 for president. He’s very popular in Florida and will handily win re-election on Tuesday. DeSantis has proven that, yes, he is a leader. He is the next generation of Republican leadership. Donald Trump is 76 years old. He’ll be 78 in 2024 and that is too old. I know he looks healthy and is active but he’s still 78 years old. It’s time for him to step aside and let others run in 2024. Voters don’t want to re-live the 2020 election. Voters look forward, not backwards. Let Trump assume a kingmaker kind of role. That is how it should be. Will Trump’s ego let him do the right thing? Probably not, if history is any indication. That’s a shame for the Republican Party and for the country.

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