Dear Commons Community,
2024 Republican presidential hopeful and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called out Donald Trump’s hold on the Republican Party during a sit-down interview with The Florida Standard, calling Trump followers “listless vessels.” See video below.
“You could be the most conservative person since sliced bread. Unless you’re kissing his rear end, they will somehow call you a RINO,” he said, challenging those who call conservative Trump critics “Republicans in name only.”
“A movement can’t be about the personality of one individual,” DeSantis went on. “The movement has got to be about what are you trying to achieve on behalf of the American people and that’s got to be based in principle, because if you’re not rooted in principle, if all we are is listless vessels that’s just supposed to follow whatever happens to come down the pike on Truth Social every morning, that’s not going to be a durable movement.”
Once wary of criticizing his top-polling rival for the Republican presidential candidacy, DeSantis seems to be more willing to take on Trump as the governor’s poll numbers have lagged and Trump’s legal woes have continued.
Weighing in on Trump’s continued claims of a botched 2020 election, DeSantis told NBC’s Dana Bash in early August, “Of course he lost. Joe Biden’s the president.”
This month, the former president was criminally indicted in both Washington, D.C., and in Georgia over alleged schemes to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
DeSantis also questioned Trump’s electability in an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier last month, saying, “There’s too many voters who just aren’t going to vote for him going forward.”
Meanwhile, the former president seems more and more confident he’ll be the one to clinch the Republican presidential nomination.
Support for Trump appears to have surged following his pair of August indictments. (He is also facing charges in Florida and New York on separate matters.)
Amid his overwhelming lead, Trump has decided not to participate in the first Republican presidential debate.
Instead of sparring with DeSantis and his fellow Republican hopefuls on Wednesday, Trump will sit down for a one-on-one interview with ousted Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson.
DeSantis spokesperson Bryan Griffin tried to reframe the comments after they riled up the “Make America Great Again” base on Saturday.
“The dishonest media refuses to report the facts,” Griffin wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “Donald Trump and some congressional endorsers are ‘listless vessels.’ Why? Because Trump and DC insiders feel he is entitled to your vote.”
“That’s why Ron DeSantis will be showing up on Wednesday night to debate, and Donald Trump will not,” he continued.
It will be interesting to see if and how DeSantis refers to Trump and his followers at the GOP Debate tomorrow night on national TV.
The DeSantis comment about “listless vessels” comes at about the 1:40 mark.