Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finally opened up about his ongoing feud with former President Donald Trump — once an ally — in an interview with Piers Morgan, criticizing Trump’s leadership style while dismissing all critiques — particularly those lodged by Trump — as mere “background noise.”
Morgan previewed his hour-long interview with the popular Florida governor in a New York Post piece on Tuesday, in which he heavily hinted that DeSantis is strongly considering a presidential run.
UPDATE: I spent over an hour yesterday interviewing @GovRonDeSantis at his Governor mansion in Florida. We talked Trump, Biden, Ukraine, love, grief, chocolate cake & his likely run for President. He’s never given a more personal or revealing interview. Stay tuned! pic.twitter.com/nDYG5vS4JF
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 21, 2023
In an exclusive wide-ranging interview with me airing on Fox Nation’s “Piers Morgan Uncensored” on Thursday, he said “stay tuned” about his widely expected announcement that he’s running for president and declared: I have what it takes to be president and I can beat Biden.
Throughout the interview, DeSantis, who has largely refused to dish on the “civil war” between himself and Trump, finally spoke more on their apparent fallout — something that became even more apparent Monday, after DeSantis told reporters that his administration would not be involved with what he described as a “manufactured circus by some Soros [backed] DA.” That was in reference to the looming Trump arrest at the hands of leftist Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whom DeSantis criticized as a yet another Soros-funded prosecutor who is weaponizing his office to “impose a political agenda on society at the expense of the rule of law and public safety.” However, DeSantis dismissed the entire narrative as a non-issue, triggering disappointment among some conservatives, who expected him to back the former president in the face of injustice.
“Well, there’s a lot of speculation about what the underlying conduct is,” DeSantis said when asked about the tone of his porn star remark during Monday’s press conference.
“That is purported to be it, and the reality is that’s just outside my wheelhouse. I mean that’s just not something that I can speak to,” DeSantis said, maintaining his line of defense and emphasizing the importance of good character.
“You really want to look to people like our Founding Fathers, like what type of character — it’s not saying that you don’t ever make a mistake in your personal life, but I think what type of character are you bringing?” he asked, adding:
So, somebody who really set the standard is George Washington because he always put the Republic over his own personal interest. When we won the American Revolution. Washington surrendered his sword. [King] George III said he’s the greatest man in the world if he gives up power. I think the person is more about how you handle your public duties and the kind of character you bring to that endeavor.
During the interview, DeSantis noted a few differences between his leadership style and Trump’s, explaining that his own approach to the coronavirus was “different.”
“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,” DeSantis said, asserting that his leadership style is also absent “daily drama,” as he strives to focus “on the big picture and put points on the board” instead.
While DeSantis dismissed Trump’s critiques as “background noise” — a similar position to one he took in November — the governor said he wants to avoid social media fights, claiming that it is “not accomplishing anything for the people I represent.”
“So, we really just focus on knocking out victories, day after day, and if I got involved in all the undertow, I would not be able to be an effective governor. So, I don’t think it’s something that makes sense for me,” he said, before weighing on the Trump-given nickname, Ron DeSanctimonious.
DeSantis said, noting that “things have changed a little bit” since Trump praised him years ago, prior to the 2018 election, which DeSantis won by roughly 32,000 votes:
I don’t know how to spell the sanctimonious one. I don’t really know what it means, but I kinda like it. It’s long. It’s got a lot of vowels. We’ll go with that, that’s fine. I mean you can call me whatever you want, just as long as you also call me a winner because that’s what we’ve been able to do in Florida, is put a lot of points on the board and really take this State to the next level.
DeSantis explained that he and Trump had a “good relationship” when he was a congressman, surmising that the president got to know him because DeSantis “saw the Russia collusion thing as a farce from the beginning.” That solid relationship did not end when he became governor.
Very few people said that. We had a handful of us in Congress that were fighting back against that. So, I would go on TV, and I would defend him when it wasn’t popular and when it was kinda politically risky, but I just thought it was the right thing to do, and then I thought that he had good ideas for the country. And then when I became governor, his last two years as president, we worked very well together. He had a place in Florida and worked well with us to serve our state.
Morgan suggested that DeSantis became “too popular,” which made DeSantis chuckle.
“Well, I would say if you look at some of the change from that . . . the major thing that’s happened that’s changed his tune was my re-election victory,” DeSantis said.
Notably, Trump appeared to attack the governor after DeSantis refused to outright say that he did not intend to run for president in 2024. It was then there began a barrage of public attacks, as Trump accused DeSantis of “playing games.” DeSantis’s refusal to overtly state that he is not running for president stands in contrast to his position in September 2021, in which he dismissed rumors of a 2024 presidential bid as “purely manufactured” and “nonsense.”
Morgan apparently suggested that DeSantis’s decisive victory in the last election, winning by roughly 1.5 million votes, was a “nightmare” for Trump, who seeks to take back the White House.
“My view though is we should want the country to do well,” DeSantis stated. “I want other Republicans to do well. I want them to eclipse me. We’re setting a great standard in Florida, have everyone up their game.”
I asked him if he was familiar with the story of Frankenstein, and he said he’d seen the movie.
“And you’re alluding to what?” he smirked, knowing full well what I was alluding to.
“Dr. Frankenstein creates a monster then loses control of the monster and then the monster ends up killing him,” I reminded him. “You know the parallel I’m making . . .”
Once again, however, DeSantis asserted that everyone should put personalities aside and put the country “first.”
“I’m a vessel for the aspirations of the people I represent. It’s not about me, as Ronald Reagan said, ‘There’s no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit,'” the governor stated.
When Morgan countered that DeSantis is “up against somebody who definitely cares who gets the credit, and who’s desperate to want to win back the White House,” the governor replied, “Well, I’m not up against anybody quite yet.”
The interview has already made waves, as Donald Trump Jr. concluded that DeSantis is 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!” he exclaimed:
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,” Trump adviser Jason Miller said as others weighed in:
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
Looking forward to the big brains explaining to me that this is actually brilliant timing for a full attack on Trump. 🙃 https://t.co/AjeaSlhTXg
— Cernovich (@Cernovich) March 21, 2023
Remember the video & story after this guy last sat with Trump only to have the full interview video then surfaced uncut afterwards? Yeah. Caveat emptor.
Ron DeSantis opens fire on Trump's character, chaotic leadership style https://t.co/Q3H9PleCKW via @nypost
— Rasmussen Reports (@Rasmussen_Poll) March 21, 2023
Now Ron is taking shots? As the left is trying to throw Trump in jail? Coward. MAGA won’t forget this! No wonder DeSantis is sinking in the polls! pic.twitter.com/rhTco0kK1K
— Ryan Fournier (@RyanAFournier) March 21, 2023
The interview came mere hours after DeSantis weighed in on the looming Trump indictment on Monday, triggering a response from Trump:
Ron DeSanctimonious will probably find out about FALSE ACCUSATIONS & FAKE STORIES sometime in the future, as he gets older, wiser, and better known, when he’s unfairly and illegally attacked by a woman, even classmates that are “underage” (or possibly a man!). I’m sure he will want to fight these misfits just like I do!
The full interview is slated to air on Fox Nation’s Piers Morgan Uncensored Thursday.
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