Florida’s Governor is going on the offense against the former President — and his devoted supporters.
“If all we are is listless vessels that are just supposed to follow, you know, whatever happens to come down the pike on Truth Social every morning, that’s not going to be a durable movement,” DeSantis said.
The Governor also rejects claims that he and others who buck the cult of “personality” around the former President are “RINOs.”
“And so you could be the most conservative person since sliced bread. Unless you’re kissing his rear end, they will somehow call you a RINO. So it’s been totally detached from principle in what you actually believe and results. And it’s more about, you know, just what faction you happen to do,” DeSantis said.
The Governor continued to describe what he perceives as hypocrisy.
“There will be people who are huge Trump supporters like in Congress who have, like, incredibly liberal left-wing records that’s really just atrocious and yet they’re viewed by some of these folks as, like, really, really good. Then you have other people, you know, like a Congressman Chip Roy who’s endorsed me, Congressman Thomas Massie,” he said.
“These guys have records of principle, fighting the swamp that are second to none, and yet they will be attacked by some of these people and called RINOs.”
The Governor’s remarks prompted a quick response from Trump’s camp, in the form of a statement demanding DeSantis apologize.
“To Hillary Clinton, Trump supporters are ‘deplorables.’ To Ron DeSantis, they are ‘listless vessels.’ The truth is, Trump supporters are patriots,” said Karoline Leavitt, spokeswoman for Make America Great Again Inc.
“Ron DeSantis is showing his true colors. The pressure of polling in third place is getting to DeSantis and now he is lashing out at the very same voters who got him elected Governor. DeSantis must immediately apologize for his disgraceful insult.”
Others from the former President’s inner circle objected to the remarks, comparing the Governor to 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“Looks like Ron DeSanctimonious just had his ‘Basket of Deplorables moment,” contended Jason Miller. “Not good!”
“DeSantis goes full-blown Hillary and calls MAGA supporters ‘Listless Vessels,’” Trump spox Steven Cheung added.
Meanwhile, DeSantis’ spox says the Governor’s comments were misinterpreted.
“The dishonest media refuses to report the facts—Donald Trump and some congressional endorsers are ‘listless vessels.’ Why? Because Trump and DC insiders feel he is entitled to your vote. (DeSantis) believes your trust should be earned and has the vision, plan, and record to beat Joe Biden and reverse the decline of our country. That’s why Ron DeSantis will be showing up on Wednesday night to debate, and Donald Trump will not,” asserted Bryan Griffin.
Griffin, whose comments came hours after the story ran, did not say which “congressional endorsers” were “listless vessels” and which weren’t. Nor did he explain why Trump not debating has anything to do with said listless vessels.
DeSantis has said he’d have no problem getting Trumpers to back him in the General Election. Clearly though there are some he feels are beyond reach or reason.
“It’s just been totally detached from any type of substance. And ultimately, a movement can’t be about the personality of one individual. The movement has got to be about what are you trying to achieve on behalf of the American people,” DeSantis added.
DeSantis has been sniping at Trump in recent days ahead of the first GOP Primary debate of the cycle — a debate Trump has said he won’t be attending.
This week, DeSantis criticized Trump for attempting to upstage him during the Iowa State Fair.
“When I was at the Iowa State fair with (Gov.) Kim Reynolds, that’s when they did their counter program. I think he was on the ground for 45 or 50 minutes. I was the only candidate he cared about in Iowa. He came because I was there and he wanted to try to take some of the attention away from us,” DeSantis said.
Trump, meanwhile, hit DeSantis for his crowd size.
“He had a very small crowd. He only had a few people show up. It’s a big difference,” Trump said.
It appears the two won’t be trading barbs on the debate stage Wednesday night, however, as Trump has reportedly chosen not to attend the debate.