Florida Governor Ron DeSantis even avoided mentioning Donald Trump’s name for months, making tacit references to the “losing culture” in the Republican party instead.
The curtain is off.
In the days following his announcement that he would challenge Trump for the Republican nomination for president, DeSantis accused him of “running on the left.”
He is drawing contrasts with the former president on a range of issues including abortion, immigration and the economy.
And – in a move DeSantis described as the ultimate betrayal of conservative values - he said Trump was “siding with Disney” in the governor’s feud with big corporation and cultural background. is also one of the state’s largest taxpayers and employers.
“I don’t know what happened to Donald Trump,” he told radio station WWTN in Nashville. “This is a different person today than he was when he ran for office in 2015 and 2016. And I think, I think the direction he’s going with his campaign is the wrong direction.”
It was one of more than a dozen interviews with friendly media outlets since filing for president on Wednesday. First, with Twitter Inc.’s owner, Elon Musk, has been overshadowed by technical glitches that have hindered DeSantis’ entry into the long-awaited race.
But his willingness to go head-to-head with Trump is sharpening the contours of the Republican nomination battle. With DeSantis mostly keeping quiet, his challenge to Trump is primarily an argument of character and temperament.
Now, with DeSantis officially entering the race and 33 points behind Trump, the governor is taking a tougher stance on policy issues.
On spending, DeSantis said Trump shares responsibility for the nation’s $31 trillion debt. “He added almost $8 trillion to debt in just four years as president,” he said. “I was right on those matters and he wasn’t.”
On abortion, DeSantis defended Florida’s newly enacted six-week abortion ban against Trump’s criticism that the ban was “too harsh” and that DeSantis didn’t know what he was doing.
“He was running to the left,” DeSantis said. But he also disapproved of the national abortion ban supported by other Republican candidates. “I think at the end of the day, we’re going to save more lives with a bottom-up approach,” he told conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch.
On immigration, DeSantis accused Trump of supporting an amnesty for undocumented immigrants as part of the 2018 immigration bill. DeSantis said: “I think hitting me for the #1 spot in America. is quite strange.
The Trump campaign responded that as a congressman, DeSantis voted for a bill that would give some undocumented minors legal status as part of a package to restrict immigration. more difficult, before opposing a similar plan.
On crime, DeSantis has criticized the First Step Act, Trump’s signed criminal justice bill, telling conservative podcaster Ben Shapiro on Friday that it’s “basically a prison break bill.” DeSantis voted for the first version of the bill but resigned from Congress before the bill was finally passed by the House of Commons.
And DeSantis has repeatedly expressed bewilderment at Trump’s criticisms of his handling of Walt. Disney DeSantis has moved to strip the company of its self-governing status due to Disney’s opposition to legislation banning teaching on topics of race and gender identity. Disney canceled plans this month to move 2,000 employees to the state.
“What a mess,” Trump said on Thursday. “He could have made it easy, but he didn’t – he wanted to show the fake news what a tough guy he was. He is not.”
DeSantis clapped his hands back.
“He is going against the culture. He even sided with Disney against me,” the Florida governor told WWTN. “He sided with Disney and said I was wrong to be on their side. So, you know, people have to make decisions about which path they’re going to take.”
But at other times, DeSantis followed closely Trump’s line. When asked about Trump’s insistence in a CNN interview that he could solve Russia’s war against Ukraine “in a day, 24 hours,” DeSantis supported the former president.
“I didn’t know he could finish it in 24 hours. I mean, he’s prone to rhetoric,” he told Newsmax. “But I do think his instinct is to try to reach a stable solution rather than let this turn into a war of attrition — or heaven forbid, escalation, with Russia having an arsenal of weapons. the world’s largest nuclear force — I think that’s the right instinct.”