Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has taken the high road by declining to respond to the vicious attacks by former President Donald J. Trump and MAGA influencers but has now gone public with criticism of the embattled GOP frontrunner as he may be mulling launching his own presidential campaign.
The Sunshine State Republican sat down with Piers Morgan for a wide-ranging interview that will air exclusively on Fox Nation’s “Piers Morgan Uncensored” on Thursday, teasing an announcement that he will soon enter the race for the White House and that he has what it takes to topple authoritarian despot Joe Biden.
For months, the rising GOP rock star has chosen to lay back while Trump flailed away at him with insults including nicknames like “Meatball Ron” and “Ron DeSanctimonious” as well as attacks in which he seemed to be using the Democratic Party’s talking points by suggesting that he would cut Social Security, and praising Charlie Crist, the former Republican who was once Florida’s governor before jumping parties.
I have a feeling President Trump will be caps-locking his phone keyboard when he watches my DeSantis interview. pic.twitter.com/EaduALZIat
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 21, 2023
During his sit-down with Morgan, DeSantis was highly critical of Trump’s management style and in one notable example of how he would have been different, said that he would have fired Dr. Anthony Fauci, a man whose championing of lockdowns, forced masking and vaccine mandates was largely responsible for one of the darkest periods in the nation’s history.
“The approach to COVID was different,” he said. “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,” the governor said, according to a New York Post column by Morgan on the soon-to-be broadcast interview.
DeSantis has been a fierce critic of the elfin career bureaucrat who may have hung up his white coat as the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in December but continues to be a constant presence on television.
“I also think just in terms of my approach to leadership, I get personnel in the Government who have the agenda of the people and share our agenda,” DeSantis told Morgan. “You bring your own agenda in you’re gone. We’re just not gonna have that. So, the way we run the Government I think is no daily drama, focus on the big picture and put points on the board and I think that’s something that’s very important.”
In a lighter moment that will likely have Trump stewing, the governor joked about the nicknames when he was asked by Morgan which one he prefers.
“I don’t know how to spell ‘DeSanctimonious,’” he joked. “I don’t really know what it means, but you know, I kind of like it. It’s long. It’s got a lot of vowels. I mean, we’d go with that. That’s fine. You know, you can call me whatever you want. I mean, just as long as you, you know, also call me a winner.”
(Video: Fox News)
DeSantis infuriated Trump and his devoutly loyal followers with remarks on the legal dilemma that the ex-POTUS is mired in as vindictive Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is on the brink of indicting him on charges related to a “hush money” payment to adult movie “actress” Stormy Daniels.
“And so, you’re talking about this situation with… and I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair. I just… I can’t speak to that,” DeSantis said on Monday when pressed by reporters to comment on Trump’s potential indictment and arrest.
However, Trump’s legal woes have done little to diminish his status as the Republican frontrunner in next year’s presidential election, perhaps the most pivotal in the nation’s history.
According to a new Morning Consult poll, Trump has opened up a 28-point lead against DeSantis, walloping his top rival 54 to 26 percent with his former vice president Mike Pence a distant third with a paltry 7 percent.
As Trump awaits potential indictment on charges related to a 2016 hush money scheme with adult-film star Stormy Daniels, he has posted one of his largest polling leads in the 2024 Republican primary. https://t.co/4CBfh5gVos pic.twitter.com/2duuXYJCQn
— Morning Consult (@MorningConsult) March 22, 2023
Trump angrily reacted with another Truth Social blast following DeSantis’ remarks, once again accusing him of wanting to make deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare, claims that will almost certainly end up in Democrat attack ads against DeSantis.
“Ron DeSanctimonious is dropping in the Polls so fast that he soon may be falling behind young Vivek Ramaswamy. People are beginning to find out that Ron wanted to destroy Social Security, and raise its minimum age to at least 70. He also had strong plans for cutting Medicare, and still does. Nothing good happens when you are a disciple of Super RINO Paul Ryan. Also, Florida did great long before DeSanctus came along, got my ‘coveted’ Endorsement, shot up like a rocket, and won!” Trump raged.
(Image: Screengrab/Truth Social)
The DeSantis interview has already rattled cages in Trumpworld with the former president’s surrogates taking to Twitter to rage against the immensely popular Florida leader.
“Just as radical Dems are indicting Trump & destroying the fabric of our nation with their Police State tactics, DeSantis pathetically runs to the liberal media on orders from his RINO establishment owners to attack my father,” tweeted Don Jr. “He’s exposing himself as 100% Controlled Opposition!”
Just as radical Dems are indicting Trump & destroying the fabric of our nation with their Police State tactics, DeSantis pathetically runs to the liberal media on orders from his RINO establishment owners to attack my father.
He's exposing himself as 100% Controlled Opposition! pic.twitter.com/bAiGCOHFxs
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 21, 2023
“Ron DeSantis has finally shown his true colors. An establishment Never Trumper who despises the MAGA base and was faking it the entire time,” said senior advisor Jason Miller.
Ron DeSantis has finally shown his true colors. An establishment Never Trumper who despises the MAGA base and was faking it the entire time. https://t.co/HwWITDa6R4
— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) March 21, 2023
“What an extraordinary political miscalculation,” wrote longtime Trump associate Roger Stone.
What an extraordinary political miscalculation https://t.co/vfTSMwNTLB
— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) March 21, 2023
“It’s not important for me to be fighting with people on social media. It’s not accomplishing anything for the people I represent,” DeSantis told Morgan. “So, we really just focus on knocking out victories, day after day, and if I got involved in all the under tow I would not be able to be an effective Governor. So, I don’t think it’s something that makes sense for me.”
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