Republican senators are coming to the defense of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after former President Donald Trump’s latest comments targeting his potential 2024 challenger.
Trump took aim at the Florida governor on Saturday, saying it would be a “tremendous act of disloyalty” if he decided to run in 2024 and claiming he had failed to handle the COVID-19 lockdown in his state.
“Ron wouldn’t be governor if it wasn’t for me. So when I hear that he might run, I think that’s very disloyal,” Trump said during the campaign trial.
“There are Republican governors who didn’t shut down their states. Florida was shut down for a long period of time,” Trump told reporters. “They are trying to rewrite history.
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“I don’t see it as an act of disloyalty to run for president, even people from the president’s office might be in this race,” Sen. Cynthia Loomis, R-Wyo., said of Trump’s comments, The Hill reported.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas also said it would not be disloyal to DeSantis to face Trump in the GOP primary.
“He ran an impressive campaign to re-elect the governor of an important state. I think he’s doing well with the election. I think we need some new blood and I think he will probably qualify,” he said.
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Recently re-elected Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Rona McDaniel downplayed the GOP’s infighting when asked about Trump’s latest comments.
“That will happen. There’s going to be a little bit of back and forth next year, we’ll get through it,” the chairman said during an appearance on FOX Business Network.
DeSantis responded to the comment Tuesday, saying the results of the 2022 midterm elections speak for themselves.
“I’m rolling out of bed, I’ve got people attacking me from all angles,” the governor said. “The good thing is that when you are an elected leader, you have to make all kinds of decisions. You have to steer this ship.”
“And the good thing is that people can weigh in on that, whether they re-elect you or not.” And I’m happy to say, you know, in my case, not only did we win re-election, we won with the highest percentage of the vote for a Republican candidate for governor in the history of the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.
Trump stepped up his attacks on DeSantis again on Wednesday, publicly denouncing him on his Truth Social account.
“The real Ron is a RINO GLOBALIST who quickly shut down Florida and even its beaches. He loved vaccines and wasted a lot of money on “Testing”. How quickly people forget!” Trump declared in a recent post.
The former president also previously called DeSantis “Ron Desanctimonius,” but the governor remained unfazed by the comments.
Although his recent comments suggest a brewing rivalry with DeSantis, Trump has previously said he has done a great job as governor during the pandemic. “I have a lot of faith in Ron DeSantis to make the right decision, he’s doing a great job as governor,” Trump said at the podium in the White House press room when asked about DeSantis’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Trump is currently the only declared contender in the 2024 presidential election, making his official announcement in November 2022. The Florida governor has not entered the race yet, but is considered a front-runner for the Republican nomination.
Fox News’ Timothy HJ Nerosi and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.