WASHINGTON ― Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Texas) endorsed Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential bid on Tuesday after a “positive meeting” with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a stinging rebuke of the potential GOP presidential contender.
“I met with Governor DeSantis, and while he has done commendable work in Florida, there is no doubt in my mind that President Trump is the only leader who can save America from the leftist onslaught we are currently facing,” Gooden said in a statement after “careful consideration” of the race.
Gooden is the latest in a slow but steady wave of Republican lawmakers to endorse Trump for the GOP nomination. The former president, who was impeached twice, most recently over his unprecedented efforts to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidential election, now has the backing of nine Republican senators and over three dozen House GOP members.
To make matters even worse for DeSantis, who has not yet announced his candidacy, seven Florida House Republicans have backed the former president. Reps. Brian Mast and John Rutherford announced their support for Trump just hours ahead of DeSantis’ meeting with congressional Republicans on Tuesday.
Still, DeSantis’ meet-and-greet event near the U.S. Capitol drew dozens of curious GOP lawmakers, including three senators: Mike Lee (Utah), John Cornyn (Texas) and Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.). Few, however, have said they would back him for president should he decide to run.
The battle for congressional endorsements between the two men is taking place as Trump continues to dominate in polls of the race for the 2024 GOP nomination. The former president’s standing with Republican voters has risen despite his criminal indictment in New York over hush money payments ahead of the 2016 election.
Trump mocked DeSantis on Tuesday over his fight with entertainment giant Disney, which has outmaneuvered the Florida governor’s attempts to punish it for criticizing his “Don’t Say Gay” law.
“DeSanctus is being absolutely destroyed by Disney,” Trump wrote on Truth Social, predicting that Disney would freeze or withdraw investment in Florida.
“In the meantime, this is all so unnecessary, a political STUNT!” Trump added.