Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said that he has a ‘decent number’ of Republican colleagues in Congress that are ‘afraid’ to endorse Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ presidential bid – despite backing him behind closed-doors.
The top DeSantis surrogate told DailyMail.com that he hasn’t personally received any backlash for supporting DeSantis and urged others to come forward because the worst former President Donald Trump can do is ‘send a mean tweet.’
Roy joined the audience for Gov. DeSantis’ town hall with Fox News in West Des Moines, Iowa on Tuesday evening. He sat next to Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis; her son Mason, five; and Iowa Evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats.
After the town hall, Vander Plaats and Rep. Roy joined DeSantis to speak with members of the press in Iowa days before the January 15 caucuses.
Roy was an early supporter of DeSantis and joins the short list of current U.S. lawmakers backing the governor’s primary bid for president.
Texas Rep. Chip Roy (right) told DailyMail.com that he has a ‘decent numbers’ of colleagues in Congress who are ‘afraid’ to publicly endorse Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (left) despite privately backing him
‘Frankly, just what are you afraid of?’ Roy questioned in an interview in West Des Moines, Iowa on Tuesday. ‘Like, ‘Oh, no, I can’t say something bad about Donald Trump or somebody might tweet against me”
The others are Reps. Bob Good (R-Va.), Laurel Lee (R-Fla.), Rich McCormick (R-Ga.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who also joined DeSantis’ campaign in Iowa the week before the first-in-the-nation primary contest.
DeSantis will debate former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley on Wednesday evening in Des Moines. They are the only two candidates who qualified for and agreed to debate in the pre-caucus CNN showdown.
Former President Trump has declined to participate in any of the Republican primary debates, claiming his polling frontrunner status and popularity among the GOP should alone be enough to make him the de facto nominee.
Rep. Roy, however, claims that Trump isn’t debating because he is scared to face-off with DeSantis.
‘Like the primary purpose is supposed to call the field and pick the best candidate,’ Roy told DailyMail.com. ‘Let’s do it. He will even show up to debate.’
‘Why do you think Donald Trump won’t show up to debate?’ the Texas lawmaker questioned. ‘Because he’ll get his butt kicked by Ron DeSantis.’
‘Because Ron DeSantis would point out that he totally failed to secure the border; he totally failed to cut spending; he totally failed by shutting our economy down and racking up a trillion dollars of debt,’ Roy listed. ‘He would destroy Donald Trump in a debate.’
Roy says that Trump’s moves in the campaign have been solely focused on his personal interest, and echoed DeSantis’ warnings that the ex-president would make a 2024 general election a referendum on those who went against him.
‘It goes without saying that virtually every single thing politically for President Trump ends up being about him – that’s it,’ Roy said. ‘I mean, it’s always been that way, it’s currently that way, it will always be that way.’
‘I think this is part of the great attraction to a strong prudent conservative like Governor DeSantis – that it is not about him, it’s about the issues.’
Roy (right) sits alongside Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis; son Mason, five; and Iowa Evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats (left) during DeSantis’ Fox News town hall in West Des Moines, Iowa on Tuesday night
Polling still has Trump in a solid first place against the other Republicans running in the 2024 election. In Iowa, he is ahead by at least 30 points, with DeSantis in second.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has put her backing behind DeSantis, but Trump still has much more endorsements from lawmakers than any other candidate.
‘There’s a decent number of my colleagues who very much like Governor DeSantis, would like to support him, but are frankly just not willing to go out on that limb,’ Rep. Roy said in his interview with DailyMail.com on Tuesday.
‘I’m not going to certainly name anybody,’ he added. ‘Everyone has their own ability to, you know, make their own decisions on that stuff.’
‘Frankly, just what are you afraid of? Right?’ Roy questioned. ‘You can’t even take a mean tweet? Like, ‘Oh, no, I can’t say something bad about Donald Trump or somebody might tweet against me.’ Look, we don’t have kings. So it’s crazy.’