Former President Donald Trump says Nikki Haley, Glenn Youngkin, Mike Pompeo and Ron DeSantis shouldn't run against him in 2024 because they don't stand a chance.
Trump made the comments during a wide-ranging interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, where he discussed Ukraine aid, "I don't think the U.S. should be sending very much"; his return to Twitter and Facebook; the declassified documents controversy he, President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence are embroiled in; and keeping his family out of his 2024 White House run because "they've been just brutalized by these corrupt politicians."
"I've helped all those people. I took Mike [Pompeo] out of nothing. I believe he always said he'd never run against the president. And you know, time goes by and then they want to run, because they're ambitious people," Trump said in an interview that aired Thursday.
"But you know, they're polling very poorly."
Florida Gov. DeSantis, who handily won reelection in November, is considered a strong contender for the Republican nomination. But he would have been dead in the water if it wasn't for Trump, said the former president.
"Ron DeSantis got elected because of me. You remember he had nothing. He was dead. He was leaving the race. He came over and he begged me, begged me for an endorsement," Trump told Hewitt of the 2018 midterm elections between DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
"He was getting ready to drop out. I gave him an endorsement, and as soon as I gave that endorsement, in fact, I said, 'You're going to have a hard time.'… [Putnam] was up in the poll massively by, you know, tremendous, but not catchable, not even catchable. He said, 'If you endorse me, I'll win.' And there were tears coming down from his eyes. … He was supporting me on the impeachment hoax No. 1, and a little bit on the impeachment hoax No. 2. And I said I don't know Adam Putnam, so we'll do it.
"So, I end up doing it, and he wins. They say it was like a bomb went off, just a bomb just totally went off. From the moment I endorsed him, he went from losing by numbers that are not catchable to winning easily."
The same went for Youngkin, the Virginia governor who also had Trump's backing.
"I did a lot for him, and he got elected because of me, just like Ron DeSantis," Trump said.
"He was really nice to me, gracious to me in writing. He wrote me the most beautiful letter you've ever seen thanking me and everything else. But then, they decided — because his campaign manager is a smart guy, Jeff Roe, said he did it without Trump. He did it without Trump. He did it with me, and I didn't like that."
Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, is a very "ambitious person and just couldn't stay in her seat," despite repeatedly vowing not to run against the former president, said Trump.
But "I'm way ahead in the polls," said Trump, and "we did a great job."
"This country has never been run so well," he told Hewitt. "This country, despite the COVID and all of the things … what I did with tax cuts, regulation cuts. I rebuilt the military that they gave so much of it to Afghanistan. Think of it — $85 billion dollars to Afghanistan. All the different things. What they did, they were trying to subvert."
On Ukraine, Trump said Russia's invasion "would have never happened if I was there."
"And Taiwan, which is a possibility, a strong possibility, would never, ever have happened if I were there. That I can tell you," he added.
But the U.S. shouldn't be sending "very much" to Kyiv.
"I think the United States should negotiate peace between these two countries. And Europe has to do much because Europe is doing probably just a small fraction of what we're doing," he added.
Asked by Hewitt whether Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Pompeo and Robert O'Brien would return for his 2024 run, Trump emphatically responded, no.
"I have great kids. And I had great kids who were forced to suffer at the hands of scum, real scum, real garbage," he said.
"And I don't want to put them through that again. I love my kids. I have a great relationship with the kids. Ivanka is an extraordinary person in every single way. And I want them to have a life.
"I think it's just a nasty, a nasty thing for them what they put those kids through, and those kids were straight and honest. When I look at Hunter Biden and all the corruption and what's on that laptop, my kids were straight, solid kids. They were before grand juries. They had to go before on stuff that these people made up. I mean, it was all made up."
On a return to Facebook and Twitter, Trump touted his Truth Social network as "the hottest thing there is."
"I could go back to Twitter whenever I want, and you know, I have some ideas planned. But you know, it's just not necessary. Truth is so hot, and I'll always have Truth. Truth Social."
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