Bigelow said his change of heart can be attributed in part to Hamas’ attack on Israel last month, which showed him that the United States needed a “streetwise” leader such as former President Donald Trump. Bigelow was also critical of DeSantis’ signing of a bill in April that banned abortion in Florida past six weeks.
“Six weeks, she just found out she’s pregnant, the odds are,” Bigelow told the outlet. “It’s a sham. It’s make-believe. It’s condescending.”
DeSantis has become too focused on “conservatism,” according to Bigelow, who also said Trump was more socially moderate. Bigelow’s comments come as five Republican presidential candidates, including DeSantis, will debate on Wednesday evening. Trump qualified for the debate but will not attend, choosing instead to hold a rally in Hialeah, Fla., as a counterprogram.
The DeSantis campaign did not immediately respond to POLITICO’s request for comment. A DeSantis spokesperson referred the Financial Times to the governor’s comments to NBC in August: “If I had a nickel for every naysayer I’ve had in my life, I’d be a very, very wealthy man.”
Bigelow has been a staunch supporter of DeSantis, once saying that he would “go without food” in order to support DeSantis’ White House ambitions. Bigelow became the biggest donor of a super PAC backing DeSantis when he gave $20 million to Never Back Down this year.
A CBS News poll published Monday showed Trump’s continued dominance in the polls while DeSantis and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley fight for second place. Six in 10 Republican voters surveyed backed Trump in the CBS poll.
Since launching his campaign in May, DeSantis has faced hurdles such as reorganizing his campaign several times, laying off staff and facing endless attacks by Trump. Though DeSantis was able to pick up the endorsement of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds this week.
Bigelow, the owner of Budget Suites of America and Bigelow Aerospace, was first drawn to DeSantis when the Florida governor tried to keep the economy open during the pandemic. Now, Bigelow says DeSantis is less willing to engage in the rough and tumble of U.S. election politics.
“I think Trump is too strong,” Bigelow told the Financial Times. “I think Trump has the momentum, the inertia, to beat him.” Trump was a “bull,” Bigelow added, but DeSantis was “dinner.”