Trump says ‘disloyal’ DeSantis ‘trying to rewrite history’ on Covid

‘Ron would have not been governor if it wasn’t for me’

Eric Garcia
Sunday 29 January 2023 14:20 GMT
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Former president Donald Trump lashed out at Ron DeSantis and called him “disloyal” as the Florida governor weighs a run for the 2024 Republican nomination against his former political benefactor.

Mr Trump spoke to Politico and CNN on his plane as he campaigned in New Hampshire and South Carolina, two states that have the first primary contests in the country.

“When I hear that he might [run] I think it’s very disloyal,” Mr Trump told reporters.

Mr Trump criticised Mr DeSantis for his record during the Covid pandemic. Mr DeSantis received plaudits from Republicans across the country for reopening Florida earlier than most other states, even though he did close the state briefly.

“There are Republican governors that did not close their states,” Mr Trump said. “They’re trying to rewrite history.”

Mr Trump also criticised Mr DeSantis for his shifting position on vaccines. Last month, Mr DeSantis announced a petition with the state’s supreme court to “enpanel a statewide grand jury to investigate any and all wrongdoing in Florida with respect to Covid-19 vaccines”.

Mr DeSantis has also opposed vaccine mandates.

But Mr Trump said Mr DeSantis “changed his tune a lot” on vaccinations.

The Florida governor and Mr Trump have a fraught history. Mr Trump endorsed Mr DeSantis in the 2018 gubernatorial primary thanks in part to an ad showing Mr DeSantis building a faux US-Mexico border wall with one of his children.

Mr Trump highlighted that on his plane when speaking to reporters.

“Ron would have not been governor if it wasn’t for me,” he said. “When I hear that he might [run] I think it’s very disloyal.”

Mr Trump for his part has taken not-so-subtle shots at Mr DeSantis, calling him “Ron DeSanctimonious” before the November midterm elections. But that did not stop the governor from winning re-election by double digits.

That victory and breathless praise in conservative media has Mr DeSantis become the most viable alternative to a second Trump term.

Mr DeSantis has also focused heavily on culture war fights on everything from teaching about race in school to LGBT+ rights. Mr DeSantis has called Florida the place “where woke goes to die”.

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