House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) publicly knocked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Sunday, saying that his rise to political stardom was paved by former President Donald Trump.

“I served with Ron DeSantis [in Congress]. He’s not at the same level as President Trump by any shape or form,” McCarthy told Fox News “Sunday Morning Futures” host Maria Bartiromo. “He would not have gotten elected [governor] without President Trump’s endorsement.”

Trump himself has deployed the same line of attack in the ongoing Republican primary — arguing DeSantis has not been appropriately grateful for Trump’s endorsement in the Sunshine State’s 2018 GOP gubernatorial primary.

McCarthy has yet to make a formal endorsement in the 2024 Republican contest.

“I think he will be the nominee,” McCarthy added of Trump, 77. “The thing is, President Trump is stronger today than he was in 2016 or 2020, and there’s a reason why. They saw the policies of what he was able to do with America – putting America first, making our economy stronger.”

Congress has eight legislative days and 13 calendar days including Monday to avert a shutdown.

Ron DeSantis
Both Kevin McCarthy and Ron DeSantis have largely refrained from swiping at one another, though the governor has made clear where his sympathies lie.

McCarthy’s swipe at DeSantis followed reports that the Florida governor has privately backed House Republican holdouts in the conference’s internal squabble over government funding ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline to avert a partial shutdown.

Last week, DeSantis had a call with Freedom Caucus Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Bob Good (R-Va.) as well as Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and urged them to “keep fighting,” Politico reported.

“They campaigned on certain things, our voters did give them the House,” DeSantis told Fox News’ “MediaBuzz” on Sunday. “Do what you believe in, because the country is going insolvent.”

Donald Trump
Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy have had mostly friendly relations with some significant bumps along the way.

Kevin McCarthy
Kevin McCarthy is in a bind because the GOP struck a deal with Democrats on top line funding numbers back in May.

Kevin McCarthy
But the speaker’s right flank wants him to slash funding even more, pitting Republicans on another collision course with Democrats.
Sunday Morning Futures/Fox News

When Bartiromo asked about DeSantis conferring with the holdouts, McCarthy warned a shutdown “would only give strength to the Democrats.”

“It would give the power to Biden. It wouldn’t pay our troops. It wouldn’t pay our border agents,” he said.

McCarthy has backed a stopgap continuing resolution to buy additional time to craft and pass the necessary appropriations bills. Such a measure, known in Capitol Hill parlance as a CR, would almost certainly need the support of House Democrats to overcome GOP opposition.

While in Congress, DeSantis was a founding member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, a perennial source of headaches for GOP congressional leaders.

Currently, the House has 221 Republicans and 212 Democrats, meaning McCarthy can afford to lose only four GOP votes and still pass legislation on a party-line basis.

Ron DeSantis
Ron DeSantis has been scrambling to gain more of a foothold in early states to undercut Donald Trump’s national dominance.
AFP via Getty Images

Back in January, as McCarthy endured 15 ballots before earning the speakership, Trump helped come to his rescue and make calls to holdouts on his behalf.

Then, in June, McCarthy struck a nerve in Trump world.

“Can [Trump] win that election? Yeah, he can win that election,” he told CNBC about a Trump-Biden rematch in 2024. “The question is: ‘Is he the strongest to win the election?’ I don’t know that answer.”

The speaker quickly went into cleanup mode, accusing the media of taking his remarks out of context.

“Trump is stronger today than he was in 2016,” McCarthy subsequently told Breitbart.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump is the clear 2024 GOP frontrunner.
AFP via Getty Images

Trump has collected more than six dozen endorsements from sitting members of the House of Representatives and 11 from sitting US senators. He also holds a 43.9 percentage-point edge over his nearest rival, DeSantis, in the RealClearPolitics polling average.

The DeSantis campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.