Why is the Trump campaign mocking DeSantis's 'pudding fingers'?

Explaining the latest attack ad in the potential 2024 GOP primary.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks.
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A super-PAC aligned with former President Donald Trump released a new ad on Friday attacking Ron DeSantis while mocking a recent report detailing the Florida governor's pudding-eating habits.

Here's everything we know about the Trump campaign's latest attack against DeSantis, his potential challenger in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, and the pudding story that inspired it.

What does the ad say?

"Ron DeSantis loves sticking his fingers where they don't belong — and we're not just talking about pudding," begins the voiceover in the ad, which features a nondescript actor eating pudding from a plastic container with his index, middle and ring fingers.

"DeSantis has his dirty fingers all over senior entitlements, like cutting Medicare, slashing Social Security — even raising our retirement age," the narrator continues. "Tell Ron DeSantis to keep his pudding fingers off our money.

"Oh, and somebody get this man a spoon," he adds at the end of the 30-second spot, which was posted to Twitter by the Make America Great Again super-PAC and reportedly aired as a paid commercial on cable networks, including CNN and Newsmax.

The ad was released hours after DeSantis quietly signed a six-week abortion ban in a closed-door ceremony late Thursday night — a move that comes as Republicans across the country grapple with the unpopularity of their position on reproductive rights. A Yahoo News/YouGov poll last month found the ban signed by DeSantis had just 34% approval nationwide, versus 50% disapproval.

What's the deal with DeSantis and pudding?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis makes a point.
DeSantis speaks at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., on Friday. (Justin Ide/Reuters)

A report in the Daily Beast last month cited two sources who said DeSantis has “a propensity to devour food” during meetings, and had once eaten pudding with three fingers.

“During a private plane trip from Tallahassee to Washington, D.C., in March of 2019, DeSantis enjoyed a chocolate pudding dessert — by eating it with three of his fingers, according to two sources familiar with the incident,” the report stated.

In an interview with Piers Morgan shortly after the report was published, DeSantis said, “I don’t remember ever doing that, maybe when I was a kid.”

“Sometimes they have really good ammunition,” he said of the political attacks. “For me, they’re talking about pudding. Like, is that really the best you’ve got?” he added, saying he wouldn’t eat pudding now because of the sugar.

Where does the potential race stand?

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Davenport, Iowa, on March 13. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Davenport, Iowa, on March 13. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

DeSantis has yet to formally announce his bid for the GOP nomination. But he has nonetheless drawn the ire of Trump, who announced his run for the White House last year.

A Yahoo News/YouGov poll published earlier this month found that Trump had surged to his largest lead yet over DeSantis among Republican primary voters, with a margin of 26 points. A Reuters/Ipsos poll last week showed Trump with a 37-point lead, up from 14% in mid-March.

NBC News reported earlier this week that DeSantis’s team was pleading with Republican members of Florida’s congressional delegation to hold off on endorsing Trump after Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., announced his support for the former president last week. Donalds is the fourth Republican member representing Florida to back Trump, while so far DeSantis has endorsements from two Republican congressmen, Chip Roy of Texas and Thomas Massie of Kentucky.

Trump is dealing with issues of his own following his arrest and arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court earlier this month on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. The next in-person hearing in that case is scheduled for Dec. 4, while Trump awaits the results of other ongoing investigations, including a federal probe into his handling of sensitive documents and a Georgia probe into his attempts to overturn the 2020 election in the state.