Republican Florida Gov. and 2024 presidential candidate Ron DeSantis’ biggest donor called him “dinner” for former President Donald Trump, who he said was a “bull” that he might start supporting instead, The Financial Times reported on Wednesday.
Nevada real estate guru and paranormal enthusiast Robert Bigelow has donated over $20 million to the DeSantis campaign for 2024, the largest donation for any current presidential candidate, according to FT. Bigelow has recently become dissatisfied with DeSantis and is now considering backing “streetwise” Trump instead.
“I’ve got to look at who would probably be the strongest commander, with the most experience,” Bigelow told FT. “And that’s only one guy.”
“Who would you want as a commander? I’d want somebody that would be a hell of an ass-kicker if he needed to be,” Bigelow said. “On the face of it, you lean toward Trump.”
Trump leads Desantis in national polling by over 40 points, according to a Nov. 7 Rear Clear Politics poll. Bigelow said he was growing confident that Trump would sweep the Republican nomination from his opponents – including DeSantis – so long as his legal troubles don’t hinder his chances, FT reported.
“I think Trump is too strong,” Bigelow said. “I think Trump has the momentum, the inertia, to beat him.”
Bigelow said he was initially drawn to DeSantis because he kept Florida’s economy relatively open during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and praised the state as the “land of the free.” He felt confident in DeSantis after having lunch with him in March and wrote his campaign a check for $20 million.
Bigelow grew skeptical of DeSantis after he passed a six-week abortion ban in April, according to FT. He publicly criticized DeSantis for the ban in August and expected a call from him after threatening to withhold further donations; DeSantis’ wife, Casey, called instead.
“Not having him bothering to call me for an explanation taught me that he’s more of a user of people, actually, and that I didn’t matter enough for him to pick up the phone,” Bigelow said.
Bigelow felt DeSantis was “way too focused on conservatism” compared to Trump’s socially moderate approach, according to FT. He also said that DeSantis seemed too hesitant to get involved in the skirmish of presidential elections.
“If he’s going to be in the gutter and you want to beat him, you better be willing and ready and able to go in the gutter too,” Bigelow said, referring to Trump. “You better be able to kill — and that’s not who Ron is.”
Bigelow’s comments come ahead of the third Republican primary debate on Nov. 8. Trump announced in August he would not attend any of the primary debates, saying it would be a waste of his time to go up against “people at 1% and 2%.”
The DeSantis campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.