The ongoing drama between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis over endorsements hit a surreal breaking point on Tuesday as both sides laid claim to New Hampshire legislators who appeared on lists as supporting both candidates.
Weeks after Trump trolled the Florida governor with an impressive list of endorsements in his home state, the top pro-DeSantis super PAC, Never Back Down, began hitting back with a lengthy list of endorsements in Iowa — which Trump’s campaign matched with more of his own — followed by New Hampshire.
Then things started getting weird.
Four of the names listed as supporting DeSantis in New Hampshire had previously been on a Trump endorsement list.
One New Hampshire lawmaker present on both lists, state Rep. Juliet Harvey-Bolia, told NBC News that she was fully supporting Trump AND DeSantis. “DeSantis has a lot of promise for the future, and Trump is great now,” she said.
A second New Hampshire lawmaker listed as supporting DeSantis, state Rep. Lisa Smart, released a statement provided to Semafor clarifying that her “support for” Trump remained the same.
“I’m dismayed by the games being played by Never Back Down and I will NOT be participating in any activities with Ron DeSantis,” she said.
The only problem? Never Back Down also released evidence, given to Semafor, showing Smart had signed a document pledging her support to the Florida governor.
Trump’s campaign spokesman Steven Cheung accused Never Back Down on Twitter of trying to “harass and intimidate our supporters” by referring reporters to listed endorsers.
Meanwhile in Iowa, three people on a list of elected and grassroots leaders released by Trump’s team on Saturday told Axios that they weren’t actually endorsing the former president, and had no idea why their names were included.
Both teams say there’s more to this story, and Trump’s team told Semafor that they plan to release additional information.
It’s a shitshow.
Room for Disagreement
Maybe we shouldn’t read too much into this affair. As some campaign veterans noted on Twitter, New Hampshire is famous for its extremely large — and largely unpaid — citizen legislature, which has a reputation for producing some eccentric members every cycle. “Worth remembering that, to paraphrase Andy Warhol, in New Hampshire everyone gets to be a state representative for 15 minutes,” journalist Ben Jacobs said on Twitter.
- The New York Times dug into the Trump and DeSantis fight over endorsements in Florida, where the two are each dominant political figures. They described Trump as having a more “personal touch” with lawmakers, including personal calls and sympathy cards, which helped give him an early advantage.