‘Disloyal hackery’: Matt Gaetz, Byron Donalds slam ‘low class’ leak of DeSantis 2018 debate prep footage

Florida Reps. Matt Gaetz and Byron Donalds may now be on the “Trump Train,” but they do not approve of leaked 2018 footage of Ron DeSantis in which he was grappling with how to handle tough questions about then-President Trump during a gubernatorial debate prep.

On the video, obtained by ABC News, Gaetz, who ran the mock debate for then-Congressman DeSantis, asks the future governor, “Is there any issue upon which you disagree with President Trump?”

“I have to figure out how to do this,” DeSantis replied. “Obviously there is because, I mean, I voted contrary to him in the Congress. I have to frame it in a way that’s not going to piss off all his voters.”

DeSantis workshopped a response, saying he would “do what he thinks is right.”

“I support his agenda, in terms of what he’s been able to do,” he said. “If I have a disagreement, I talk to him in private.”

DeSantis and his team also worked on responses to such hot-button topics as the National Rifle Association (NRA) and whether he would accept donations from the controversial organization.

“Has the NRA donated to me?” DeSantis asked.

At another point, he states, “I don’t think the NRA is quite the boogeyman the Democrats think it is.”

The issue of “likeability” was also discussed, with one off-camera aid suggesting to DeSantis that he wants “to have that likable, dismissive tone, and not condescending.”

But, when it came to hitting back at his challenger for Florida’s governor’s mansion, DeSantis pulled his punches, according to ABC News.

“Some of the ones that are digs, I don’t think they work,” an off-camera DeSantis says. “I think it makes me look like an a**h*le.”

Clearly, the leaked video, which comes as DeSantis prepares to announce his 2024 bid for the White House, was meant to somehow smear the popular governor — a move Gaetz says he can’t “abide.”

“I ran the Desantis Debate Prep in 2018,” Gaetz wrote on Twitter. “Though I prefer Trump for President (bigly), the release of these videos by the person operating the camera is disloyal hackery that I do not abide.”

“Staffers who leak on the candidates they’ve done work for deserve the reputations they get,” he added.

Rep. Donalds was also on DeSantis’s debate prep team, and he shares Gaetz’s distaste for the leak.

“These tapes should not have been leaked,” he tweeted. “It’s low class.”

If the leaker’s intent was to make DeSantis look bad, ABC News was about as successful as Media Matters has been in their recent quest to smear Tucker Carlson.

“I see nothing wrong with anything DeSantis said here,” one Twitter user wrote.

“He didn’t say anything wrong,” Gaetz replied. “Still doesn’t make this leak honorable.”

“Is this a big deal, though?” asked another user. “There’s nothing he’s saying that’s alarming at all. I guess the leakers think it’s explosive. It’s not.”

“Agreed,” a third user wrote back. “The leakers are desperate and hope that their MSM friends can put their classic twist on it.”


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