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DeSantis sharpens criticism of Trump, dismisses mocking nicknames appeared on by Kelly Kasulis Cho.


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) made his sharpest criticism yet of former president Donald Trump, indirectly rebuking the leadership style of his possible rival for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination and styling himself as a “winner.”

When DeSantis was asked by television host Piers Morgan in a recent interview how he is different from Trump, the governor said that he took an alternative approach to managing the coronavirus pandemic and “would have fired” Anthony Fauci, who advised Trump as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

DeSantis also appeared to portray himself as a more disciplined executive than Trump, whose term in the White House was marked by frequent changes of key personnel. “I get personnel in the government who have the agenda of the people and share our agenda. You bring your own agenda in, you’re gone … So, the way we run the government, I think, is no daily drama, focus on the big picture,” he said.

The interview will air Thursday on Fox Nation’s “Piers Morgan Uncensored,” but Morgan shared some highlights in a column for the New York Post.

While DeSantis is not a declared candidate for 2024, he has privately indicated that he intends to run, The Washington Post has reported. Trump and DeSantis have long shared a political alliance, though that has come under strain as the race to be the next Republican flag-bearer heats up.

The governor, like many other GOP politicians, had been wary of responding to personal attacks by the former president, who still has significant support among the Republican base. But Trump has been politically weakened by the generally poor GOP showing in last year’s midterm elections — during which DeSantis scored a landslide win — and his campaign for the 2024 presidential nomination has so far lacked significant support from the party’s top officials.

In the interview, DeSantis shrugged off Trump’s mocking nicknames for him, such as “Sanctimonious DeSantis.” He said: “You can call me whatever you want, just as long as you also call me a winner, because that’s what we’ve been able to do in Florida.”

What Republicans have said about a possible Trump indictment

The interview sparked ire from Trump allies, who have also been pressuring his Republican rivals to back the twice-impeached president in the face of a potential indictment by a New York grand jury this week.

“While the entire conservative movement is united against the unjust indictment of President Donald Trump, Governor DeSantis is choosing to go off half-cocked and take shots on some low-rent vlog,” Taylor Budowich, who runs Trump’s main super PAC, MAGA Inc., tweeted. “DeSantis’ terrible political instincts are being reflected in all the public polls as he flames out faster than Piers Morgan’s ratings.”

DeSantis took another dig at Trump while speaking on a college campus Monday. He accused the Manhattan prosecutor’s office of being politically motivated in the pursuit of a Trump indictment, but also cheekily referenced allegations that the former president’s lawyer paid at least two women to stay quiet about possible extramarital affairs to protect his 2016 run. Those payments are at the heart of the potential grand jury indictment.

“Look, I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair — I just, I can’t speak to that,” DeSantis said, to applause from the audience.

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