Former President Donald Trump is clearly the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, but consistently following in second place is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and he raised eyebrows this week by opining on a potential running mate choice if he were to become the GOP nominee.
Over the weekend, DeSantis replied "of course" when asked by a reporter if he would consider Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to be his vice presidential nominee, the Daily Wire reported.
That question and response came just days after Trump had attacked Reynolds over her perceived disloyalty toward him for adopting and adhering to a decidedly neutral stance in terms of all of the Republican candidates campaigning across her state in the months leading up to the all-important Iowa caucuses that kick off the primary season.
On Saturday, a CBS News reporter asked Gov. DeSantis, "Governor, you have spent a lot of time with Governor Reynolds, you defended her after President Trump’s recent statements. Would you consider her as a potential vice presidential pick in this campaign?"
"Of course," DeSantis replied without hesitation. "I mean, she’s one of the top public servants in America, I thought the attacks on her were totally, totally out of hand, and totally unnecessary. We should be thanking good Republican officeholders."
"You know, we kind of joke about the Iowa-Florida [competition], sometimes they do things before us, sometimes we do," the governor continued. "But honestly, I want them to do better than us because it’s healthy. When Republicans are doing well, I like that, I don’t get jealous of that, I want to see them do well."
DeSantis added, "And so they’ve done a great job and I think she’s been a model public servant and anybody who’s a Republican that’s trying to denigrate her I think is way off base on that."
The Daily Wire noted that Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst was standing beside DeSantis as he made his remarks about Gov. Reynolds and was noticeably nodding in agreement with what he had to say.
Gov. DeSantis tells @CBSNews he would “of course” consider choosing IA Gov. Kim Reynolds as his VP.
DeSantis and others defended Reynolds after Fmr. Pres. Trump called her out for not endorsing him.
DeSantis said any Republican “trying to denigrate her I think is way off base” pic.twitter.com/nCuMlJHVPt
— Musadiq Bidar (@Bidar411) July 15, 2023
Less than a week earlier, the Des Moines Register reported that former President Trump had posted a critical statement in regard to Gov. Reynolds on his Truth Social account after she had appeared at a DeSantis campaign event.
The post began with a list of all of the purported things Trump had done to benefit Iowa and, though unstated, clearly implied that he had cleared the path for Reynolds to become governor in the first place by way of his appointment of former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to be his ambassador to China.
"I opened up the Governor position for Kim Reynolds, & when she fell behind, I ENDORSED her, did big Rallies, & she won," Trump stated. "Now, she wants to remain 'NEUTRAL.' I don't invite her to events!"
Except, as the Register noted, Reynolds purposefully declared her neutrality in the Republican primary contest several months ago so as not to discourage any of the candidates from campaigning in the state, and as a neutral state official, she has appeared at events for several candidates over the past few months, including Trump, as well as DeSantis, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, among others.
Yet, as he has long tended to do, Trump insists upon complete loyalty from those who he believes he has helped to achieve their current position, hence the recent attack, which by many accounts could backfire on him in the Hawkeye State and provide a boost to his competitors -- including DeSantis, who appeared sincere in expressing interest in Reynolds as a possible VP pick.