Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has broken his silence and responded to attacks against him made by former President Donald Trump. The governor, who is seen as a possible opponent to Trump in the 2024 presidential primaries, had been ignoring the comments that the former president made against him last week. But now, he has decided to hit back.
During a Tuesday press conference, DeSantis was asked what he thinks of Trump’s repeated attacks. The governor responded:
“One of the things I’ve learned, like learning this job, is when you’re leading, when you’re getting things done, you take incoming fire. That’s just the nature of it. I roll out of bed in the morning. I’ve got corporate media outlets that have a spasm. Just the fact that I’m getting up in the morning, and it’s constantly attacking, and this is just what’s happened. I don’t think any governor got attacked more particularly by corporate media than me over my four-year term.”
DeSantis continued, referring to the attacks as “just noise.”
“What matters is, are you leading? Are you getting in front of issues? Are you delivering results for people? And are you standing up for folks? And if you do that, then none of that stuff matters,” he said. “And that’s what we’ve done. We focused on results and leadership, and at the end of the day, I would just tell people to go check out the scoreboard from last Tuesday night.”
Ron DeSantis responded to Trump's attacks against him.
What do y'all think of the response? pic.twitter.com/5zCRO1Lusq
— Jeff Charles, Destroyer of Democracy (@JeffOnTheRight) November 15, 2022
The governor did not address Trump by name, but it seems he was addressing all attacks against him – including from the former president and the activist media.
Last week, Trump referred to DeSantis as “Ron DeSanctimonious” during a rally in Pennsylvania. Later, he posted a scathing diatribe against the governor on Truth Social:
“NewsCorp, which is Fox, the Wall Street Journal, and the no longer great New York Post (bring back Col!), is all in for Governor Ron DeSanctimonious, an average REPUBLICAN Governor with great Public Relations, who didn’t have to close up his State, but did, unlike other Republican Governors, whose overall numbers for a Republican, were just average—middle of the pack—including COVID, and who has the advantage of SUNSHINE, where people from badly run States up North would go no matter who the Governor was, just like I did!”
The former president claimed that the governor was “desperate” during his 2018 campaign because he “had low approval, bad polls, and no money,” and said, “if I would Endorse him, he could win.”
“I also fixed his campaign, which had completely fallen apart. I was all in for Ron, and he beat Gillum, but after the Race, when votes were being stolen by the corrupt Election process in Broward County, and Ron was going down ten thousand votes a day, along with now-Senator Rick Scott, I sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys, and the ballot theft immediately ended, just prior to them running out of the votes necessary to win. I stopped his Election from being stolen…”
DeSantis is playing the game, but he is doing so strategically. Instead of ripping into Trump, he decided to tout his accomplishments and shrug off all the attacks he has endured while governing Florida.
It was probably the right move. Clapping back on Trump would have lent credibility to his attacks and would have ignited a rhetorical war that might have distracted from his quality as a candidate. Moreover, his team likely saw how the base criticized the former president for taking such an antagonistic approach before DeSantis even announced his intention to run.
But if DeSantis does run, he will not be able to ignore Trump’s insults completely. At some point, he will have to take him on in a more direct manner. The governor has shown that he is capable of giving as good as he gets when it comes to the activist media. But the question is: Can his polished style of political pugilism work against a brawler like Trump?