In an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, the Florida governor explained all the ways he differs from Mr Trump, from their upbringings to his presence at the GOP debates.
“I mean, he was born into great wealth, I’m a blue-collar kid that had to work minimum wage jobs to get where I was,” Mr DeSantis said and highlighted that he volunteered to serve in Iraq while Mr Trump conducted business as a young man.
Mr DeSantis also boasted that he believes he could serve two terms as a president while Mr Trump would be “a lame duck on day one” and that he performed better in the Florida gubernatorial race than Mr Trump did in the 2020 election.
The sudden deviation from Mr DeSantis defending Mr Trump to the media comes after the Florida governor has spent parts of his campaign coming to the ex-president’s defence on policies and his criminal indictments.
Since launching his candidacy for president, Mr DeSantis has spent a considerable amount of time absorbing Mr Trump’s constant attacks to avoid creating an enemy out of the most powerful figure in the Republican Party.
After all, Mr Trump’s endorsement was a major reason that Mr DeSantis performed so well in Florida.
But Wednesday’s interview depicted Mr DeSantis’ willingness to separate himself from Mr Trump. It appears to be a new campaign strategy, different from the previously reported one that specifically asked Mr DeSantis to defend Mr Trump.
But it also may be an effort to try and boost Mr DeSantis’ image after primary polling numbers showed the Florida governor performing at his worst.
In the interview, Mr DeSantis specifically lashed out at Mr Trump’s refusal to participate in the GOP debates.
“He owes it to the people to be there,” Mr DeSantis said. “He owes it to the people to make the case and to defend his record. You can’t be not showing up to these things.”
Mr Trump refused to participate in the first debate in August, instead opting for an exclusive interview with Tucker Carlson to air on the social media platform X. He has decided to invoke a similar strategy for the upcoming second debate, choosing to spend time with voters in Michigan instead.
Meanwhile, Mr DeSantis and the other candidates running for president are preparing to hash it out again on the debate stage.
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