DeSantis criticized some Republicans for being too loyal to Trump
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is widely seen as a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate, has sparked controversy among some of former President Donald Trump’s supporters after he made a remark that seemed to criticize their loyalty to Trump.
In an interview with the Florida Standard, an online politics outlet that describes itself as center-right, DeSantis said that Republicans cannot be “listless vessels” who just follow whatever Trump says or does.
“We can’t just be listless vessels that are just waiting for the next thing that he says or does,” DeSantis said. “We have to be able to stand on our own two feet and advance the ball.”
DeSantis added that he respects Trump and agrees with him on many issues, but he also has his own vision and agenda for the country.
“I think he’s been a great president. I think he’s been right on a lot of things. But I also have my own identity. I have my own vision. I have my own agenda,” DeSantis said.
Trump supporters accuse DeSantis of attacking MAGA movement
DeSantis’s comments did not sit well with some of Trump’s most ardent supporters, who accused him of attacking the MAGA movement and betraying Trump.
On Truth Social, Trump’s new social media platform, several users reshared DeSantis’s interview and labeled his comments as an attack on MAGA supporters.
One user wrote: “DeSantis is a traitor. He is trying to undermine Trump and the MAGA movement. He is no better than the RINOs [Republicans in name only] and the Never Trumpers.”
Another user wrote: “DeSantis is a fake conservative. He is a listless vessel for the establishment. He is not loyal to Trump or his supporters. He is only loyal to himself.”
Some users also compared DeSantis’s comments to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 critique of Trump’s supporters as “deplorables”.
One user wrote: “DeSantis just called us listless vessels. That’s worse than deplorables. He just insulted millions of Americans who love Trump and this country.”
Another user wrote: “DeSantis is the new Hillary. He thinks he is better than us. He thinks we are stupid and brainwashed by Trump. He is wrong. We are smart and patriotic.”
DeSantis allies scramble to clarify his comments
DeSantis’s allies and advisers quickly tried to clarify his comments and defend him from the backlash.
They said that DeSantis was not criticizing Trump or his supporters, but rather urging Republicans to be more proactive and independent in advancing conservative policies and principles.
They also said that DeSantis was still a strong ally of Trump and that he would support him if he decides to run for president again in 2024.
One of DeSantis’s advisers told The Washington Post that DeSantis was “misunderstood” and that his comments were taken out of context.
“He was not talking about Trump or his supporters. He was talking about some Republicans in Congress who are not doing anything to fight back against Biden and the Democrats,” the adviser said.
Another adviser told The New York Post that DeSantis was “not attacking” Trump or the MAGA movement, but rather “challenging” Republicans to be more effective and assertive.
“He was not attacking anyone. He was challenging Republicans to be more than just cheerleaders for Trump. He was saying that we need to be leaders and doers, not just followers and talkers,” the adviser said.
DeSantis faces tough competition from Trump in 2024 race
DeSantis’s comments come as he faces tough competition from Trump in the 2024 Republican presidential race.
According to recent polls, Trump remains the overwhelming favorite among Republican voters, with DeSantis trailing behind him by a wide margin.
A poll conducted by Quinnipiac University in August found that 70 percent of Republicans would vote for Trump if the primary were held today, while only 10 percent would vote for DeSantis.
Another poll conducted by Morning Consult in July found that 59 percent of Republicans would vote for Trump if the primary were held today, while only 12 percent would vote for DeSantis.
However, some analysts have suggested that DeSantis could pose a serious threat to Trump if he decides to run for president in 2024.
They argue that DeSantis has a similar appeal to Trump’s base, as he has been a vocal critic of President Joe Biden, a staunch defender of election integrity, a champion of anti-COVID lockdown measures, and a supporter of border security and law enforcement.
They also argue that DeSantis has an advantage over Trump, as he has a more positive image among the general public, a more moderate tone and temperament, and a more impressive record as governor of Florida.
Some analysts have also speculated that DeSantis could be Trump’s running mate in 2024, forming a formidable ticket that could unite the Republican Party and attract a wide range of voters.
However, neither Trump nor DeSantis has officially announced their plans for 2024, and both have said that they are focused on the 2022 midterm elections, where they hope to help Republicans regain control of Congress.