If there's one thing Donald Trump cannot stand, it's an underling stealing his limelight. Trump was notorious for alienating some of his highest profile appointees once they started to gain their own national profile. Exhibit A: Steve Bannon, who started down a rocky road after being featured in a Time magazine cover story in which he was tagged, "The Great Manipulator." By August, Bannon was out on his ear.
Now, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis may be starting to muscle Trump out of the way in a bid to become the GOP's 2024 nominee. A straw poll at the Western Conservative Summit found that DeSantis edged out Trump as the top pick among summit attendees, 74.1%-71.43%. Though the top two potential candidates were separated by less than a few points, they both outshone the next contender, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, by roughly 30 points. Cruz secured the third position with 43%. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got 39% and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina received 36% to round out the top five. Attendees at the summit of some 500 people were asked to vote for all the candidates they approved of for president in 2024.
Nothing about straw polls is binding, much less predictive. But they are an early window into potential top contenders for party nominations. This latest straw poll marks the second in which DeSantis and Trump were the top two contenders. At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February, Trump took first with 55% of the vote while DeSantis came in a distant second with 21%. That was a comfortable margin for Trump, leading to many headlines depicting Trump as the de facto leader of the party and top contender for the '24 nomination should he choose to run. It also led to speculation that Trump might consider DeSantis as a running mate—a prospect that Trump himself encouraged.
Asked by Fox Business in June if he would potentially consider DeSantis as a running mate, Trump responded, "Sure, I would."
But being edged out by DeSantis in the latest straw poll is sure to grate on Trump and his extra fragilistic ego.
"Road to White House: DeSantis tops early 2024 straw poll," read a Fox News headline.
That's not a headline Trump can let stand as he works to muscle his way back into the headlines with his summer revenge tour.