WASHINGTON — Don’t say former President Donald Trump didn’t warn you.

Trump tried to persuade Florida Governor Ron DeSantis not to seek the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Trump said he would hammer DeSantis on a personal level. He said that a brutal fight would divide the party, anger the conservative base and do desantis «never…able to successfully run for office again.»

While DeSantis stood by, absorbing Trump’s attacks, the former president amassed the support of lawmakers, including more than half of the House members from their shared home state of Florida.

Trump highlighted DeSantis’ missteps and poll numbers.

None of it worked.

DeSantis plans to make his candidacy official this week, when federal campaign finance rules require him to file paperwork for a presidential bid. Trump aides say they are not surprised, that they expected DeSantis to mount a campaign, despite the former president’s public efforts to dissuade him.

And while they’re sticking to the details of their plans to welcome DeSantis into the race, they say the thrust of their strategy won’t change much at a time when support for Trump’s main rival has waned.

«We’re not going to telegraph everything we’re going to do, we don’t usually do that, but suffice to say it’s going to be more of the same,» said Chris LaCivita, one of Trump’s campaign managers. . «I don’t know of anything that has changed in our approach and in the way that we will follow the narrative.»

DeSantis’s allies say he’s in a strong position heading into his entry into the race.

“The Republican primary is already a two-man race, and Governor DeSantis isn’t even a candidate,” said Erin Perrine, spokeswoman for the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down SuperPAC. «As we’ve seen in his recent visits to Iowa and New Hampshire, there’s growing momentum behind the governor because he’s the only Republican who’s not just talking the talk, but continuing the tough fights like taking on rogue corporations.»

Trump led DeSantis 56.3% to 19.4% in the Real Clear Politics Average of recent multi-candidate national polls on Monday. That marks a significant change from the early months of the year, when most polls showed Trump below the 50% threshold and DeSantis often registered between a quarter and a third of Republican primary voters. In a CNN poll in early March, DeSantis led Trump 39% to 37%.

DeSantis’ shadow campaign, which has included a book tour and visits to early primary states over the past three months, did nothing to halt or reverse his decline. And while DeSantis’s allies have framed the race as a two-man contest, neither his fundraising prowess nor his performance on the stump are deterring other hopefuls.

Sen. Tim Scott, RS.C., launched his campaign Monday and Trump cheered as he fired a shot at DeSantis.

“Tim is a huge step up from Ron DeSanctimonious, who is totally ineligible,” Trump said, using his nickname for the Florida governor.

Steve Bannon, host of «The War Room» podcast and executive director of Trump’s 2016 campaign, said polls suggest Trump shouldn’t even bother with DeSantis.

“The numbers are simple and the numbers are brutal: The more the American people see Governor DeSantis, the less they think he is presidential material,” Bannon said. «President Trump should focus exclusively on Biden and his inevitable replacement.»

The biggest turning point in the polls was precipitated by an outside force. When Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicted Trump on charges related to alleged hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels in March, many Republicans rallied in Trump’s defense.

DeSantis was slow to respond and ultimately delivered a jab at Trump that did not go down well with some in the Republican Party. But he has also alienated some potential supporters by questioning US aid to Ukraine and by signing Florida’s new six-week abortion ban, which could turn undecided voters against him in a general election.

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who ran unsuccessfully against Trump in 2016, said DeSantis’ recent slump is proof that the political arena is dynamic.

«What’s true today isn’t necessarily true tomorrow: a point where DeSantis was coming up, and then, look how everything’s changed,» he said. «You do not know».

Perrine, the spokeswoman for Never Back Down, said Republicans will ultimately elect DeSantis.

«The election couldn’t be clearer to primary voters: While Donald Trump may talk about a great game, DeSantis actually fights and wins,» he said. “Voters not only know that DeSantis will beat Joe Biden, but they know that as Trump backs down in battles, DeSantis will always fight for our values, country, children, families and future.”

But despite Trump’s efforts to keep DeSantis out of the race, his advisers say they knew this day would come, and laid the groundwork for it long ago.

“We have always treated him like he was a candidate,” LaCivita said.