Iowa voter confronts DeSantis about ‘going soft’ on Trump

While former president Trump continues to heavily criticise DeSantis, the Florida governor doesn’t often return attacks

Ariana Baio
Thursday 04 January 2024 20:42 GMT
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Voter confronts DeSantis for going ‘soft’ on Trump

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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Long before Ron DeSantis set out on the 2024 presidential campaign trail, he was perceived as a viable candidate to take on former president Donald Trump.

But among several missteps, the Florida governor’s refusal to directly attack the former president has contributed to voters’ uncertainty in Mr DeSantis’ strength against Mr Trump.

It’s an issue that Mr DeSantis has faced in the media and from potential voters – one Iowan asked Mr DeSantis straightly on Wednesday: “Why haven’t you gone directly after him?”

“In my viewpoint, you’re going pretty soft on him,” the voter, identified as 75-year-old Christopher Garcia by The New York Times, told Mr DeSantis.

The Florida governor tip-toed around the subject, saying he consistently “articulated all the differences” between him and Mr Trump before pointing the finger at the media for stacking up a rivalry between the two.

“What the media wants, is they want Republican candidates to just kind of like smear and personally attack… that’s just not how I roll,” Mr DeSantis said.

Unlike other candidates like former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, Mr DeSantis has sparingly returned attacks on the former president. Mr DeSantis defended Mr Trump when he was indicted in August.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump has continued to insult Mr DeSantis by bestowing upon him insulting nicknames, mocking his personality and undermining his career trajectory.

But Mr Garcia pressed Mr DeSantis to comment on Mr Trump’s consistent attacks on people’s appearances, character, intelligence and careers – the same attacks the former president often launches at people who he feels wronged him.

He cited the time Mr Trump called late senator John McCain “not a war hero”.

“Those are talking points I would use. I mean the guy has no class,” Mr Garcia suggested.

But rather than engaged in bashing Mr Trump’s insult-riddled language, Mr DeSantis pivoted the conversation to focus on the former president’s weakness with military votes in the Florida panhandle.

Later Mr Garcia told The Times “Are these people afraid to take Trump head on? I mean, is that the problem?”

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