An outside group backing Ron DeSantis has found an unlikely secret weapon: Former Trump spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany.
It is urging supporters to get behind her after Donald Trump, her former boss, abused her on social media.
It comes after the Florida governor himself came to McEnany’s defense, calling the former White House press secretary, one of Trump’s best hires.
And the attack has already cost the former president one endorsement after a New Hampshire state representative switched allegiance to DeSantis because of the ugly attack.
Now Never Back Down, a super PAC backing DeSantis, sees a chance to hammer Trump for his lack of loyalty to one of his administration’s highest-profile figures.
It has launched a fundraising campaign, calling for a united Republican Party that rejects mudslinging.
‘Trump has just turned on Kayleigh McEnany, the courageous former White House Press Secretary who defended him skillfully in the face of vicious, hateful media jackals,’ it says in a fundraising email.
An outside group backing Ron DeSantis has found an unlikely secret weapon: Former Trump spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany. She is pictured with her husband Sean Gilmartin and their daughter Blake Avery
‘Trump talks a lot about “loyalty” but will turn on anyone, any day — even conservatives who have worked tirelessly to defend him.’
Its ‘Stand with Kayleigh’ campaign is aimed at new small dollar donors, says the group. And so far the current average donation from the push is $12.50.
McEnany joined the administration in its final year. Love her or hate her, she quickly became a media sensation.
Opponents accused her of spreading untruths from the White House podium, but the Trump faithful lapped up the way she spoke for them in clashes with journalists.
Since leaving office she kept up her praise for Trump on Fox News, peppered occasionally with hardish truths.
Earlier this week she discussed polling data from Iowa which suggested that DeSantis had narrowed the gap with frontrunner Trump.
McEnany briefly discussed recent polling in Iowa, which suggests DeSantis is narrowing the gap with the former president since he formally announced his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination last week.
‘The Desantis team would say we just had polling comes out that shows we closed the gap by nine points since we announced in Iowa,’ she said on Fox News.
‘Still, Trump is hugely ahead but they say they are closing the gap. If you look at polling it was Trump 34 in Iowa and it’s now 25. That’s double-digits.’
Even her careful framing of the data, reminding viewers that he was quoting the DeSantis team’s interpretation and that they were still well behind, was not enough to appease her former boss.
‘Kayleigh ‘Milktoast’ McEnany just gave out the wrong poll numbers on Fox News. I am 34 points up on DeSanctimonious, not 25 up,’ he wrote on his Truth Social platform, using his nickname for DeSantis while misspelling the term ‘milquetoast.’
Now Never Back Down, a super PAC backing DeSantis, sees a chance to hammer Trump for his lack of loyalty to one of his administration’s highest-profile figures. DeSantis speaks with wife Casey during a campaign stop in South Carolina
‘While 25 is great, it’s not 34. She knew the number was corrected upwards by the group that did the poll. The RINOS & Globalists can have her. FoxNews should only use REAL Stars!!!’
DeSantis was quick to latch on it as a vehicle for his message that he is pushing hardline policies without the drama of Trump.
He said she was one of the great appointments in an administration that made mistake after mistake in picking personnel.
‘She’s a Harvard trained lawyer. She’s an absolute killer, and she ate the press alive,’ he said in a podcast conversation with the editor of the New Hampshire Journal.
‘And so for him to be attacking her. You know, I thought that that was really, really bad.’
Voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, he added, were sick of that ‘pettiness.’
‘They don’t like all that,’ he said. You know, we’ve got big issues to deal with and we should be focusing on Joe Biden and his failures. That’s what I’m doing.’
Earlier New Hampshire state Representative James Spillane said he was pulling his backing for Trump.
Spillane told NHJournal he was pulling his public endorsement of Trump and backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in response to Trump’s treatment of the popular Fox News personality.
‘Trump has just turned on Kayleigh McEnany, the courageous former White House Press Secretary who defended him skillfully in the face of vicious, hateful media jackals,’ the Never Back Down PAC says in a fundraising email.
McEnany joined the Trump administration in its final year. DeSantis said she was one of the great appointments in an administration that made mistake after mistake in picking personnel
‘I can no longer continue endorsing former President Trump,’ he told the New Hampshire Journal. ‘I am officially withdrawing my endorsement, as his most recent attack on Kayleigh McEnany is beyond comprehension and explanation.’
Trump showed no sign of giving up on nicknames on Thursday evening. He christened his primary rival and the former governor of Arkansas ‘ADA Hutchinson’ in a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity.
DeSantis arrived in South Carolina on Friday, the third stop as he tours early primary states.
A 500-strong crowd was waiting to hear him in Gilbert, just outside the state capital Columbia. They include supporters and the curious.
‘DeSantis is the true Trump alternative,’ said business development manager Mike Kelly. ‘He has everything that Trump has without without the downside, without the drama.’