In an interview with Piers Morgan that will be broadcast on Thursday, Ron DeSantis finally takes aim at Donald Trump. Until yesterday, he had remained silent in the face of Trump’s usually childish attacks on him. No more: Morgan provides a preview:
[I]n a series of jabs at his likely biggest Republican nominee rival, DeSantis slammed Trump over his character failings, chaotic leadership style, and for his handling of the COVID pandemic — especially in keeping controversial health chief Dr. Anthony Fauci in his post helping to run the White House Coronavirus Taskforce.
Trump even awarded a presidential commendation medal to Fauci in one of his last acts as president.
That’s a great wedge issue for DeSantis. Fauci’s favorability among Republican primary voters is probably in single digits.
When I asked DeSantis to cite specific differences between him and Trump, he said: “Well I think there’s a few things. The approach to COVID was different. I would have fired somebody like Fauci. I think he got way too big for his britches, and I think he did a lot of damage.”
Inevitably, DeSantis will draw personal contrasts between himself and Trump, given that the two men are in general agreement on most policy issues:
DeSantis also slammed Trump’s chaotic, self-obsessed, and divisive management style, saying:
“I also think just in terms of my approach to leadership, 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. We’re just not gonna have that. So, the way we run the Government I think is no daily drama, focus on the big picture and put points on the board and I think that’s something that’s very important.”
Morgan brought up the comments DeSantis made yesterday about Stormy Daniels and Trump’s allegedly impending arrest. Mostly, DeSantis bashed the New York prosecutor for bringing a political prosecution. But he also distanced himself from Trump’s sometimes-indefensible conduct, as he did again with Morgan:
When I asked if he meant to be as censorious as he sounded when talking about Trump allegedly paying off porn stars, he doubled down and replied: “Well, there’s a lot of speculation about what the underlying conduct is. That is purported to be it, and the reality is that’s just outside my wheelhouse. I mean that’s just not something that I can speak to.”
The message was clear: I’m nothing like Trump when it comes to sleazy behavior.
I think we can say the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination began this week.