Governor Ron DeSantis unleashed a series of criticisms against former President Donald Trump during a media blitz following his announcement to enter the presidential race. DeSantis expressed dissatisfaction with Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and voiced concerns about Trump’s statements on issues such as guns and abortion.
These critical remarks represent a departure from DeSantis’ previous reluctance to directly criticize Trump, likely due to concerns about alienating Trump’s supportive base within the Republican Party. However, now that he has officially declared his candidacy, DeSantis will find it more challenging to avoid addressing Trump’s positions.
During an interview with radio host Matt Murphy, DeSantis emphasized ideological differences between himself and Trump, suggesting that his strategy may focus on policy distinctions rather than personal matters. He argued that while he supported Trump when their beliefs aligned, he would prioritize what he believes to be right in the face of substantive disagreements.
DeSantis highlighted his more conservative views on issues such as abortion and immigration, asserting that Trump was opposed to Florida’s fetal heartbeat bill, which he signed into law. He also criticized Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the decision to rely heavily on Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has faced criticism from many conservatives.
Moreover, DeSantis condemned Trump’s statement from 2018 suggesting that authorities should “take the guns first, go through due process second” following the Parkland school shooting. DeSantis argued that this approach violated both the Second Amendment and the Fifth Amendment’s due process protections.
While DeSantis criticized Trump’s positions, he also hinted that if elected president, he might consider pardoning Trump in the event he faced charges related to the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack. DeSantis criticized the Department of Justice and FBI, accusing them of being “weaponized” and expressing a commitment to reviewing cases of individuals who have been targeted for political reasons.
As DeSantis voiced his criticisms, Trump responded with a video in which he mocked DeSantis, intentionally misstating his first name as “Rob DeSanctimonious.” Trump questioned DeSantis’ competence and suggested that the governor’s poll numbers were declining.
While DeSantis takes aim at Trump on policy issues, it remains to be seen how their dynamic will evolve during the presidential race. Both individuals will likely seek to differentiate themselves and appeal to their respective bases within the Republican Party.