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DeSantis criticizes 'daily drama' of Trump's leadership style, ratcheting up growing tensions

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 3/22/2023 Sarah Elbeshbishi, USA TODAY

After months of waving off taunts from Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hit back – and he didn’t pull any punches.

DeSantis took shots at the former president’s character and leadership during an interview set to run Thursday, which British media personality Piers Morgan previewed in the New York Post. This marks the first time the governor has outwardly criticized Trump.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis waves to the crowd as he attends an event Friday, March 10, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa. © Ron Johnson, AP Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis waves to the crowd as he attends an event Friday, March 10, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa.

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'Winner' is a better nickname than 'meatball Ron'

Despite months of taunting, DeSantis hadn’t engaged with Trump’s attempts to provoke him, which has grown increasingly common as DeSantis has emerged as Trump’s top challenger for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.

“To me, it’s just background noise,” DeSantis said of Trump’s taunts.

And of the nicknames Trump has coined for the Florida governor, among which is “Ron DeSanctimonious” and ''Meatball Ron,'' DeSantis said he didn’t mind what people called him as long as they also called him a “winner.”

“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 added. “If I got involved in all the under tow I would not be able to be an effective Governor.”

DeSantis slams Trump’s chaotic presidency, leadership

The governor also took a swipe at Trump’s tumultuous four years in the White House, which was often overshadowed by Trump’s personal transgressions and key personnel turnover.

“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. You bring your own agenda in, you’re gone,” DeSantis said. “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.”

'It's a trap': Despite Trump's calls for protests, few efforts emerge, as supporters worry

When asked about key differences between himself and Trump, DeSantis told Morgan he would have handled the COVID-19 pandemic differently, adding he would have fired Anthony Fauci, who was then advising Trump as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

No promises on 2024 presidential bid

Despite being considered Trump’s top rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and just falling slightly behind the former president in recently polling, DeSantis has yet to make any official presidential bid.

“I haven’t made a final decision on it,” DeSantis said. I’ve told people that I’ve got a lot to do over the next few months in Florida. We’re gonna put a lot of points on the board. And then we’ll see how the dust settles after that.”

Although DeSantis made no promises, he told Morgan that if he were to run, he would be running against President Joe Biden, adding that he believes he’d win against him in a general election as well.

“If I were to run … I’m running against Biden,” DeSantis said.

While DeSantis would be running against Trump for the GOP nomination, he said he would ultimately focus on Biden. “I think he’s failed the country. I think the country wants a change. I think they want a fresh start and a new direction and so we’ll be very vocal about that," he said. 

Trump responds: DeSantis 'desperately trying' to rescue campaign

Trump lashed out at DeSantis' criticism of him Wednesday afternoon, accusing the Florida governor of “desperately trying” to revive his campaign despite DeSantis having not yet announced a presidential bid.

“While I am fighting against Radical Left Lunatics, Persecutors, and unfair Prosecutors who want to destroy us all, Ron DeSanctimonious is not working for the people of Florida as he should be,” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post. “He is too busy chatting with a Ratings Challenged TV Host from England, desperately trying to rescue his failing Campaign—But it’s my fault, I put him there!”

Recent polls have showed Trump slightly widening his lead over DeSantis. However, DeSantis is still a highly favorable potentially presidential candidate among Republican and Republican-leaning voters.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: DeSantis criticizes 'daily drama' of Trump's leadership style, ratcheting up growing tensions



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