Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently voiced criticism of former President Donald Trump, holding the former president responsible for his own electoral defeat in 2020 and casting doubt on Trump’s capacity to lead the country once more, as reported by CNN.
During a campaign event aimed at garnering support from Florida sheriffs, DeSantis unexpectedly took aim at Trump, signaling his intention to reshape the race by highlighting what he perceives as Trump’s inadequacies.
In an apparent reference to Trump’s age and stamina, DeSantis quipped, “We don’t need any more presidents whose vigor has waned.” He emphasized that the party’s nomination should not be a foregone conclusion, especially for “anyone who couldn’t even prevent Joe Biden’s victory.”
Regarding the 2020 election, he asserted that people were “voting against Trump,” undercutting the ongoing claims of a stolen election by the former president and his supporters.
This drew heckling from failed congressional candidate Laura Loomer, who used a bullhorn to protest outside DeSantis’s Tampa event, causing disruption inside.
“Let’s be honest,” DeSantis stated, “he energized Democrats. You could have John Kennedy walk through the door right now, and he wouldn’t energize Democrats as much as Donald Trump does.”
These remarks come amid DeSantis’s shift to a more confrontational approach in recent weeks as the urgency to distance himself from Trump has grown.
However, the sharp criticisms directed at Trump on this occasion were noteworthy in signaling a shift in strategy for DeSantis. He appears ready to confront his former ally directly as he seeks to overcome his significant polling deficit.
Democrats have seized on the rift in their relationship. After DeSantis criticized Trump as “missing in action” and attributed inflation to the Trump administration’s spending, President Joe Biden shared a clip on social media, endorsing DeSantis’s comments.
The latest round of attacks largely stemmed from questions posed to DeSantis during the Tampa event. One supporter of DeSantis questioned how the Florida governor plans to defeat a candidate who “fills stadiums.”
DeSantis responded swiftly, stating, “Not anymore,” and emphasized the importance of each voter’s influence regardless of their level of enthusiasm.
DeSantis also criticized Trump’s unfulfilled promise to construct a border wall and have Mexico pay for it, pledging to complete the project himself.
Furthermore, DeSantis raised doubts about Trump’s fundraising figures, which were announced shortly after DeSantis released his own campaign numbers.
The Trump campaign reported raising over $45.5 million from July 1 to September 30, compared to DeSantis’s $15 million.
However, only $5 million of DeSantis’s funds can be allocated to the primary, while Trump has nearly $36 million designated for primary use, according to his campaign.