Trump's Latest Attack on DeSantis Is Desperate and Dubious

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Former President Donald Trump really screwed the pooch on this one. In his latest attack on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, he made some questionable claims about the quality of life in the Sunshine State and suggested that DeSantis is not performing well as governor.

Trump’s rhetoric towards DeSantis is nothing new. Shortly after the midterm elections, he began his onslaught on the individual who is widely viewed as the only potential person who could challenge Trump for the Republican presidential nomination for the 2024 election.

DeSantis has not yet announced his intention to run, but this has not stopped Team Trump from targeting him. So far, the governor has not given much in the way of clapback, although that will probably change soon.

On Friday, Trump sent out an email criticizing DeSantis, stating that while the governor is busy running a “weeks-long shadow campaign for president,” Florida is supposedly suffering from a virtual smorgasbord of problems. He highlighted concerns about economic issues, education, healthcare, elder abuse protections, safety, housing, energy costs, and other factors that might affect the quality of life in the state.

According to Trump, under DeSantis’ leadership, Florida has become one of the least affordable states to live in, with high taxes imposed on Floridians amounting to over $1.5 billion during DeSantis’ first term. He claimed the cost of living has risen significantly, with home prices skyrocketing in cities like Miami and Tampa. The email also notes that the Sunshine State ranks among the most expensive states in the country for healthcare and car insurance premiums.

Trump also raised concerns about the state of education in Florida, along with low rankings in health and safety, affordability, and childcare. He pointed out that the state ranks poorly for economic opportunity, workplace conditions, and resources related to elder abuse protections. The state has also been ranked unfavorably for raising a family, paying taxes, and safety.

The email also highlighted housing affordability, with median rent prices increasing by 30 percent in just two years, leading to over “2 million Floridians spending more than 30% of their income on housing.” Energy costs in Florida are also among the highest in the nation, with expensive monthly electricity and natural gas costs.

Additionally, Trump criticized Florida’s rankings for various professions, including being the third-worst state for fair taxes, the worst state for Medicare providers per capita, and low rankings for teacher pay, medical environment, and serving as a police officer. The state also ranked poorly for millennials, working dads, and working moms.

To put it simply, Trump is attempting to convince the country that Florida is a horrible place to live, an idea that any sane person knows is not true. Indeed, over the past few years, members of the chattering class have constantly pointed out how people have been moving to states like Florida and Texas in droves, fleeing the blue states they previously called home.

Several high-profile conservative influencers chimed in on Twitter, pointing out the flaws in Trump’s arguments.

Conservative commentator Buck Sexton noted that DeSantis “flipped Florida in one term from purple to solid red,” and “attracted almost 1 million people to move to Florida in his first term.”

Max Nordau posted a video in which Trump praised DeSantis, calling him a “great” governor.

Political consultant Noah Pollak also pointed out how Trump went from being complimentary about DeSantis to pretending that he ruined Florida.

Warning: coarse language

RedState’s Jennifer Van Laar also highlighted some holes in Trump’s email.

Thousands of people from places like New York, Michigan, Illinois, and California moved to Florida during the pandemic, many of them Republicans. Though the Miami area was hit with an unprecedented rain event last week and has been suffering from gas shortages as a result, it isn’t likely that those new Floridians will see that as a signal that the state is tumbling into “complete and total delinquency and destruction.”

This line of attack, like several others Trump has made against DeSantis, makes absolutely no sense. It is as if he and his team think they can gaslight the public into believing that Florida is akin to some dystopian nightmare. Nobody buys this – especially those who moved to the Sunshine State to escape the horrific governance in places like California and New York.

However, Trump is currently leading the pack by a healthy margin and is still the favorite to secure the GOP nomination. Perhaps he can afford to make silly mistakes like this. But if he wants to ensure that DeSantis or other candidates will not pose a threat, he would do better to highlight his record as president instead of taking bizarre potshots at DeSantis.

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