Gaetz, who turned 39 earlier this month was a staunch Trump supporter and ally during his first presidential term and considered to be a protégé of sorts. He proposed to his present fiancée during a visit to Trump’s Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-lago.
“I support Donald Trump for president,” Gaetz told the Post. “I’ve directly encouraged him to run and he gives me every indication he will.”
However, he added, “If Trump doesn’t run, I’m sure I could defeat whatever remains of Joe Biden by 2024.”
Despite garnering considerable buzz for his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Gaetz’s stock dropped somewhat following allegations that he had solicited sex for money with an underage female via the “sugar daddy” dating app Seeking Arrangement.
After the Biden Justice Department announced the probe, left-wing media pounced, attempting to discredit him and force his resignation.
However, Gaetz unequivocally denied the allegations and has remained undeterred by the feeding frenzy, drawing favorable Trump comparisons for his ability to weather the partisan attack. The Justice Department has given no indication if and when it would file charges or else close the investigation.
Gaetz and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., another popular target of leftist post-Trump derangement, recently hosted the first in a planned series of “America First” rallies in Mesa, Ariz., not far from where the most extensive independent election audit to date has sought to analyze some 2.1 million votes in Maricopa County.
They held another event in The Villages, Fla., close to Gaetz’s home district.
A third rally was set to take place Thursday evening in Dalton, Ga., part of Greene’s home district, in a state that was thrust into the center of the vote-fraud firestorm after the Nov. 3 election.
Several other prominent GOP contenders with close Trump ties have also given signals that they might enter the contest.
Whatever their private opinions of Trump may be, many still consider him the defacto party leader and have signaled they would step out of the way if he were to run. Trump decimated a handful of lesser-known “RINO” contenders to secure the 2020 nomination.
Trump representatives have indicated that he is currently focused on reclaiming Congress in the 2022 midterm election and will wait until afterward before giving any serious consideration to another presidential bid.
If the path is cleared for other contenders, DeSantis could pose the biggest hurdle to Gaetz given that the two are both Florida leaders with close Trump ties and similar political styles. Both also have been the subject of media smear campaigns.
But an anonymous source close to Gaetz downplayed the concerns, according to the Post, instead suggesting that DeSantis’s campaign might ultimately complement that of the congressman.
“He [DeSantis] might like someone else on the debate stage who can torch his opponents and lay down ground cover for him,” the source said.
Gaetz has “clearly been vetted and smeared like a presidential candidate,” the source added.