With his 2024 Presidential campaign officially underway, Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) spoke in West Des Moines, Iowa, finally addressing the criticism thrown at him by former President Donald Trump. Namely, Gov. DeSantis expressed his belief Trump's attacks will shift voters away, having "moved left" on specific issues.
Additionally, while Trump continues to lead in all of the public opinion polls, Gov. DeSantis states, "We also recognize there are a lot of voters who just aren't going to ever vote for him. We just have to accept that," said DeSantis.
DeSantis provided a personal example of how voters will change preferences. He described how people did not vote for him as Governor in 2018 out of a belief he was too much like President Trump but voted for his reelection in 2022 because he had developed a more solid identity separate from the former president.
"I know people in Florida who voted against me in 2018, who voted for me in 2022. And they said, "Well in '18, I thought you were too much like [Trump]. '22, you're your own guy, we're going to do it. So that's just a reality I think we face," DeSantis continued.
Moreover, DeSantis spoke of his support for Trump and refusal to publicly criticize him when he disagreed with a policy as Trump constantly fought with the left and media alike. "Well, now he's attacking me over some of those disagreements," said DeSantis, "but I think he's doing it in a way that the voters are going to side with me."
DeSantis highlighted three areas of policy Trump attacked him for; COVID-19, illegal immigration, and government spending; as examples of where Trump could lose to DeSantis.
"I mean, we talked about COVID. Do you want [former New York Governor Andrew] Cuomo, or do you want Free Florida? If we could just decide the caucuses on that, I would be happy with that verdict by Iowa voters," the Governor first said regarding COVID.
On immigration, he stated his disagreement with an amnesty bill supported by Trump that would give amnesty to 2 million illegal immigrants.
"He's attacking me for opposing an immigration amnesty for illegal aliens that he did support when he was President, 2 million illegal aliens. He campaigned against that in 2016. So even though he switched to support it as President, I remained true to America First principles," stated DeSantis.
Finally, he described voting against the "grotesque" 2018 omnibus bill that Trump signed that has become another angle of attack.
"He also attacked me for voting against the omnibus bill that he signed in 2018. It was a grotesque omnibus bill. And it's really part of the reason why we're in such dire straits as a country fiscally now. So I didn't bash him then because I wanted him to succeed. But that was a disagreement we had, and now he's going to say that somehow he was on the right side of that. And so I do think, unfortunately, he's decided to move left on some of these issues," DeSantis concluded.