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- DeSantis was already worried about alienating the MAGA base in 2018, per an old debate prep video.
- The video, obtained by ABC News, shows DeSantis answering mock questions on disagreements with Trump.
- DeSantis is heard saying how he would frame the answer so he would not “piss off” Trump’s voters.
In 2018, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was already worrying about how he could publicly disagree with then-President Donald Trump without annoying and alienating the MAGA base, a new video shows.
A video published on Sunday by ABC News shows Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz helping DeSantis prep for debates, for DeSantis’ first gubernatorial campaign in 2018.
Gaetz posed him a mock question, asking: “Is there any issue upon which you disagree with President Trump?”
DeSantis, who was a member of Congress at the time, answered: “Obviously, there is. I mean, I voted contrary to him in the Congress.”
“I have to frame it in a way that’s not going to piss off all of his voters,” DeSantis added.
DeSantis then explained that he would respond to such a question by saying he would do what he thinks is “right” and support Trump’s agenda, per ABC’s video.
“If I have a disagreement, I talk to him in private,” the governor said in the video.
The video is part of nearly two and a half hours of tapes that ABC has obtained.
The leaked debate tapes demonstrate how DeSantis was concerned about not alienating a significant portion of GOP voters long before he showed interest in running as the Republican opponent to Trump in 2024.
DeSantis has not officially announced a 2024 presidential run, but he will likely be Trump’s biggest rival for the GOP presidential ticket if he chooses to. And while DeSantis has held back from publicly criticizing Trump, Trump has launched numerous attacks on the Florida governor.
Trump’s endorsed DeSantis in 2018, but said in March that he regrets making the endorsement. Trump has also given DeSantis nicknames like “Ron DeSanctimonius” and “RINO Globalist” — the former of which DeSantis has tried to brush off.
In April, Trump’s camp also tried to force Ron DeSantis to resign as governor and formally declare a 2024 run, accusing the governor of “taxpayer-funded globetrotting.”
A representative of DeSantis did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment sent outside regular business hours.