Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is ramping up his attacks on Donald Trump now that he is officially challenging the former president for the 2024 nomination, accusing him in a new interview of abandoning right-wing principles.
“It seems like he’s running to the left, and I have always been somebody that’s just been moored in conservative principles,” DeSantis said in an interview with Tennessee radio host Matt Murphy.
“These will be interesting debates to have, but I can tell you, you don’t win nationally by moving to the left,” he continued. “You win nationally by standing for bold policy. We showed that in Florida. I never watered down anything I did.”
DeSantis announced his long-awaited bid for the Republican nomination Wednesday in a glitch-ridden Twitter broadcast with CEO Elon Musk.
While Trump has repeatedly taken swings at the Florida governor over the last six months, DeSantis had largely declined to strike back at the former president. However, on Thursday, he took direct aim at Trump’s conservative credentials on issues such as Social Security and abortion.
“I don’t know what happened to Donald Trump,” DeSantis said. “This is a different guy today than when he was running in 2015 and 2016, and I think the direction that he’s going with his campaign is the wrong direction.”
DeSantis is currently trailing Trump in primary surveys by more than 30 points, according to a Thursday polling average from FiveThirtyEight, though he regularly comes in second place to the former president, who has wasted no time going on the offensive himself.
“Wow! The DeSanctus TWITTER launch is a DISASTER! His whole campaign will be a disaster. WATCH!” Trump said in a post on Truth Social, adding later, “Is the DeSantis launch FATAL …Yes!”