Since taking office in 2018, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has grown increasingly vocal in his criticism of President Donald Trump’s policies. Initially keeping himself in lockstep with the president and more cautious statements, DeSantis has shifted his stance to an arguably more direct approach. Now, DeSantis is slamming the president with language that is viewed as more confrontational.
It began in May when DeSantis announced that he would be issuing a greater amount of executive orders than the president in order to combat Covid-19. He then launched into a wide-ranging critique of the president’s actions regarding the virus, calling Trump’s unwillingness to accept responsibility for mistakes “a distraction from actually doing the work.”
DeSantis’ more direct language didn’t end there. More recently, the governor attacked Trump’s refusal to release his taxes and his investing in regarding the Russia investigation in Fox’s interview. DeSantis remarked that not releasing taxes “sends a bad message” and added that the president’s investment in Russia showed a “lack of moral authority.”
It’s clear that DeSantis’ more direct approach to criticizing the president is a calculated move. Currently, the governor is balancing his loyalty and political alliance with the president and his own desire to be seen as an independent leader in the GOP. This more direct critique of Trump is DeSantis’ attempt to draw a distinction between himself and his former ally without being too extreme.
However, this move is a risky one. While DeSantis’ criticism could buy him positive response from more independent voters, his rhetoric runs the risk of alienating the hard-core Trump supporters and die-hard GOP members who still stand firmly with the president. As a result, DeSantis’ more confrontational stance could backfire and cost him both political power and potential voters in the party.
It remains to be seen whether DeSantis’ more direct critique of the president will pay off. It is certainly a tough sell to both Trump supporters and the more center-leaning GOP, but will likely nevertheless prove a key part of the Florida Governor’s political success.