DeSantis explains to Pierce Morgan how he'd go after Trump in a primary, as indictment looms
- DeSantis hit back at Trump in the New York Post after he made salacious insinuations on Truth Social.
- He contrasted his winning record with that of the ex-president and accused him of boosting Fauci.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis meant every word.
If there was any doubt that the Republican governor misspoke or might walk back his Monday attacks on Donald Trump's character — just as the former president was staring down a looming indictment — the governor shattered them all in a follow-up interview with Piers Morgan of the New York Post.
DeSantis doubled down on his attacks against Trump in an interview published Tuesday, raising questions about Trump's alleged affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels and calling his administration full of "daily drama."
He also reminded readers that Trump was a loser, indirectly referring to the 2020 election and the 2022 midterms when Democrats held onto more seats than expected. When Morgan asked him what he thought of "DeSantimonious," the nickname Trump gave him, the governor brushed it off and insisted he could defeat President Joe Biden.
"I don't really know what it means, but I kinda like it, it's long, it's got a lot of vowels," DeSantis told the New York Post of the nickname Trump gave him shortly before Election Day. "We'll go with that, that's fine. I mean you can call me whatever you want, just as long as you also call me a winner because that's what we've been able to do in Florida, is put a lot of points on the board and really take this state to the next level."
DeSantis' comments to the Post mark an escalation against Trump, who the Florida governor could challenge for the GOP nomination for president. Doing an interview with the New York Post was a particularly sardonic move given that the publication snubbed Trump after he announced he was running for president in 2024 and anointed DeSantis "DeFuture."
—Raheem J. Kassam (@RaheemKassam) March 21, 2023
DeSantis has been in politics since his 30s and hasn't lost a race since first running for the US House in 2012. He narrowly became governor of Florida in 2018 largely thanks to a Trump endorsement against a far better-known challenger. By 2022, DeSantis was running for reelection without Trump's help and won by a record 19 points.
His latest attacks drew the immediate attention of Trump allies, who decried the governor for insulting Trump at a time when the Manhattan DA prepared to levy charges.
—Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 21, 2023
All weekend, DeSantis had stayed silent on Trump, only to dig at him Monday over his alleged affair.
Though DeSantis called the investigation politically motivated and said he wouldn't help with an extradition, he also dismissed the investigation as less important than his agenda in Florida, drawing the ire of MAGA-world and Trump himself.
Speaking through a Truth Social post on Monday, Trump insinuated DeSantis might someday face his own "false" allegations from another woman, an "underage" classmate, or "possibly a man."
DeSantis hasn't faced such allegations, but Trump was hitting back at the governor for trying to paint a certain picture of himself as a devoted father and husband.
The contrast was no accident, DeSantis suggested in his New York Post interview, once again pointing to the allegations against Trump, saying, "There's a lot of speculation about what the underlying conduct is."
"You really want to look to people like our Founding Fathers, like what type of character, it's not saying that you don't ever make a mistake in your personal life, but I think what type of character are you bringing?" DeSantis asked. "So, somebody who really set the standard is George Washington because he always put the Republic over his own personal interest."
Underscoring the differences even further, DeSantis, 44, said one reason he might not run for president in 2024 is that he has three young children with his wife, Casey DeSantis.
"I've got different obligations and it's not the easiest thing in the world to go through and I also want to make sure that I have a very clear rationale for doing what I'm doing," he said.
Until now, DeSantis has generally avoided hitting Trump directly. Instead, his messages tend to be more subliminal. For instance, he held a press conference last year about Covid vaccine skepticism in West Palm Beach, which is close to Trump's permanent home. Trump was president when the federal government fast-tracked the vaccine and conservative voters have been more likely to reject boosters.
DeSantis made it clear during the New York Post interview — which will fully air on Fox Nation's "Piers Morgan Uncensored" on Thursday — that he would run to the right of Trump on Covid. He again attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former top infectious disease official in the federal government who became the face of the US response, which included lockdowns DeSantis rejected for Florida.
Trump often butted heads with Fauci, though he kept him in his role.
"The approach to Covid was different," DeSantis told the New York Post. "I would have fired somebody like Fauci. I think he got way too big for his britches, and I think he did a lot of damage."
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