Matt Gaetz, Byron Donalds denounce release of Ron DeSantis debate prep footage

'Disloyal hackery that I do not abide.'

Matt Gaetz is no longer in Ron DeSantis’ political orbit, but he’s denouncing the leak of footage from a time when he was central to the Governor’s political operation.

ABC News reported on debate preparation video recorded during the 2018 campaign, with footage included about how DeSantis would deal with tough questions. Gaetz believes the material is out of bounds.

“I ran the DeSantis Debate Prep in 2018. Though I prefer Donald 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,” Gaetz tweeted.

Rep. Byron Donalds, also involved in the debate prep, panned the release of the video as “low class” on Sunday.

The footage probed a number of hot-for-2018 topics, including Gaetz asking if there were issues on which DeSantis diverged from Trump, whose endorsement was key five years ago.

“I have to figure out how to do this,” DeSantis said. “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.”

The National Rifle Association was also a topic of note in ABC’s writeup.

“Has the NRA donated to me? I don’t think the NRA is quite the boogeyman the Democrats think it is,” said DeSantis, who just signed a permitless carry bill into law.

DeSantis was advised to have a “likable, dismissive tone … not condescending” also during the prep.

The footage is released as DeSantis is getting ready to launch his own 2024 presidential campaign.

The DeSantis/Gaetz rift has been years in the making. Asked about Gaetz’s own legal complications in 2021, which ultimately led to no charges, DeSantis said he didn’t “have anything to say.”

Gaetz accompanied DeSantis on a three-stop tour of cities in June 2018, joining DeSantis during question-and-answer sessions at those events. He also accompanied DeSantis to at least one debate during the primary campaign.

And once the Primary was in the rearview, Gaetz only got rougher with DeSantis’ General Election opponent.

“I don’t know whether to call him Andrew Gillum or ‘Andrew Kill-‘em,’” Gaetz said during an October campaign event with DeSantis in Southwest Florida of DeSantis’ then-opponent. The joke was about Tallahassee’s murder rate, but critics saw it as just another in a series of racial gaffes from the DeSantis side.

Gillum was under scrutiny at the time from the FBI, which was investigating larger issues in Tallahassee. Gaetz suggested a better name for the Democratic nominee would be “Andrew Guilty.”

Gaetz and DeSantis were fixtures at events not just in Gaetz’s home in the Panhandle, but throughout the state. He ended up with a plum prize, of course, a prominent role on the Governor’s transition team.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Dont Say FLA

    May 7, 2023 at 10:40 am

    My takeaway here is that obviously Gaetz did it

    • Yeah

      May 7, 2023 at 7:35 pm

      Any child could have told you that.
      Under oath or not. Lol

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  • Earl Pitts American

    May 7, 2023 at 10:47 am

    Good morning America,
    Its offical:
    Matt is a dook 4 brains RINO.
    Hello fool Trump lost. It dont matter if they cheated. All that matters is whi is in the White House.The left is confident:
    1. They will roll Trump again.
    2. That Desantis will beat the stew out of the left.
    Matt you are a RINO.
    Thank you America,
    Earl Pitts “America’s Go To Political Advisor” American

    • JD

      May 7, 2023 at 11:01 am

      Pitts the Shitts has spoken America! All bow before his prowess and humility (only outpaced by his ability to detect sarcasm).

    • Elliott Offen

      May 7, 2023 at 11:03 am

      👆Used to support Trump now jumped ship to another religious police state lunatic and neo nazi. Trump supporters will find this guy and beat him senseless. Just need IP from FP and they come see him.

    • Ocean Joe

      May 7, 2023 at 1:17 pm

      If Desantis goes up against Cristie or Hutchinson or Haley or even the Vivek guy, they’ll change his diaper for him right there on stage.
      Not good in debates. Will implode.

      • DerpSantis

        May 7, 2023 at 4:05 pm

        Gov Derpface

  • JD

    May 7, 2023 at 11:02 am

    Hello FP – please include a link to the tapes for all of us to see.

  • Billy the Bamboozler

    May 7, 2023 at 11:08 am

    Just another GOP shill for the rich. Nothing is different about him and Orange Hitler. Give the rich your money. Spending and tax cuts..bada bing bada boom.. you’ll never see a penny of it again. Money doesn’t trickle down. Zero economic mobility for rural sub-apes waving Trump flags. Healthcare for rural sub-apes is a .44 Magnum revolver.

    • Truth teller

      May 7, 2023 at 3:09 pm

      Don’t forget covid killing off the trump antivax crowd.

      • Dr Lapadont

        May 7, 2023 at 4:03 pm

        Not according to Doctor Lapadog

      • Mama Cheese

        May 7, 2023 at 6:14 pm

        The information has started to come out, Mr. Truth Teller. You should try reporting or commenting on that which is really true. It’s the people who didn’t get the vaccine who are recovering and coming out of the hospital. My lungs are at 37% according to my pulmonologist. Yes, I got Covid twice. Hospital 5 days and 6 days, but I survived WITHOUT THE VACCINE. And I decided about my own situation lung-wise that it was in my best interests not to get the vaccine. Since when is it wise to listen to any politicican for advice on whether or not you should get any vaccine? Doesn’t sound like Truth Teller to me.

        • Antivaxxers are welfare queeny mooches

          May 7, 2023 at 6:31 pm

          11 days in the hospital. That would run around $2 million. And who paid for that? Definitely not any anti-vaxxer!

        • Earl Pitts American

          May 8, 2023 at 7:13 am

          Good morning Cheezy,
          Your post is Off Topic leftist fake retoric hate speach. I, Earl Pitts American. am calling on FP to do the right thing by removing “The Cheezy One’s, off topic leftist screed and place Ms. Cheezy in FP jail for 30 days of posting rights removed.
          Go straight to FP Jail Cheezy. Goodbye.

          Thank you Cheezy,
          Earl Pitts “Word Police” American

    • Kathy

      May 7, 2023 at 6:48 pm

      You mean the democrats nazi socialist party! Selling out America to China! FJB ..

      • Dont Say FLA

        May 8, 2023 at 8:23 am

        Company officers and Board of Directors are the ones who sold USA out to whoever seemed to offer the best deal for their “take the money and run” scheme. Political parties are both on the take from these horrible people. The partial blame we can put on the two political parties in USA is equally shared between the two parties. And then we have legacy media that works to convince USA Americans that their enemies are other USA Americans, while social media is nothing but a tool of mass manipulation. USA Americans are effectively hapless participants, molded by their “choice” of media and propaganda. And you seem to be a propagandist whether or not you realize it.

  • He Who Is

    May 7, 2023 at 2:02 pm

    Christians fighting Christians; we all win!

  • Don’t Look Up

    May 7, 2023 at 3:12 pm

    Any time a Republican targets another Republican….. the American people benefit from the discourse.

    If Americans want legislation to limit border crossings, a new vision for abortion and gun violence…..they must do one important duty:

  • Ed Dot Com 👍

    May 7, 2023 at 8:46 pm

    Hickerey, hackery, and balls sack smackery…all in a days work for Mini Hitler and his gang of neo nazis.

  • John Barron

    May 7, 2023 at 10:25 pm

    Meatball Ron’s hips are wider than his shoulders. Like a woman. And he wears heels!!! It presidential!!!

  • Rob Desantos

    May 8, 2023 at 10:20 am


  • Billy the Bamboozler

    May 8, 2023 at 12:45 pm

    He has cooked his goose. Orange Hitler will run in 2024 and lose. The right wing nut jobs are costing the GOP a fortune. When will they learn? Probably never…

  • Dont Say FLA

    May 9, 2023 at 8:10 am

    I watched the entire debate prep video. Disappointingly, Gaetz never asked DeSanties the one question people need an answer on: “Why are you hitting yourself, Rhonda? Why are you hitting yourself!!!?”

  • FedUpFloridian

    May 9, 2023 at 10:36 am

    Regardless of which babysitter schools DeSantis, he’s made his bed. In 2 months time we’ve had construction come to a halt, Disney rub Little Ronnie’s diaper in his face by engaging the King Charles clause and seen new tourism reservations scream to a halt. Meanwhile, we all have to watch our sixes for all the permitless carry fools running around this state. Not a safe state for women, Bipoc, LGBTQIA +, school children and it’s affordable only for the top 1%. Everything else that matters is at the bottom 50; Healthcare, mental health, education, affordability, personal liberty, safety and individuality just to name a few. His book should be titled “Implementing Fascism: How to destroy a great state in record time.” DeSantis can’t play nationally and he won’t win. The only good thing he will do is provide the downdraft sufficient to sink both Trump’s and his own balloon in one fell swoop.

Comments are closed.


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