Trump claims tearful DeSantis ‘begged’ for 2018 endorsement

Former president Donald Trump has claimed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ victory in the 2018 election came about only after the then-congressman begged him for an endorsement with teary eyes.

Mr DeSantis, who easily won re-election over former Democratic Representative (and former GOP governor) Charlie Crist last year, is widely expected to announce a run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. Mr Trump, his former ally, is the only declared GOP candidate for that election at this time, and has previously claimed credit for Mr DeSantis’ political successes.

Speaking during an appearance on The Hugh Hewitt Show on Thursday, Mr Trump suggested Mr DeSantis was trailing in polls to his 2018 GOP primary opponent before he recieved Mr Trump’s endorsement.

“He was dead. He was leaving the race ... and he begged me — begged me for an endorsement,” he said. He later added that the Florida gubernatorial candidate had “tears coming down from his eyes”.

Mr Trump also claimed the Florida governor’s 2018 primary opponent, former Florida agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam, had “a massive lead” at the time, but polls from that time period showed Mr DeSantis comfortably ahead.

The twice-impeached ex-president has a long history of describing encounters with teary-eyed men, all of whom he describes as praising him in lavish terms.

There is no evidence that any of the stories which follow this template are accurate, and reporters covering Mr Trump’s 2020 campaign frequently noted that his description of crying men was a strong indicator that the then-president was making up a story.