Ron DeSantis opens fire on Trump’s character, messy style

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has finally taken off his gloves and launched a savage attack on his former mentor President Donald Trump.

In an in-depth exclusive interview with me at the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee, he said “stay tuned” to his much-anticipated announcement that he was running for president, stating, “I’ve got what it takes to be president, and I can beat Biden.”

But what he said about Trump will ignite a firestorm in the Republican Party.

For months, DeSantis has said nothing as Trump escalated his verbal attacks on him, branding his ex-protégé “Ron DeSanctimonious” and “Meatball Ron.”

On Monday, Trump went berserk after DeSantis shot him over his anticipated charges over alleged payments to ex-lover Stormy Daniels, saying, “I don’t know what it takes to pay a porn star to keep quiet about some nature of the alleged affair.”

The resulting morally censorious tone provoked an angry reaction from Trump, who raged on his own Truth Social platform: “Ron DeSanctimonious will likely find out about FALSE ACCUSATIONS & FAKE STORIES at some point in the future as he gets older, wiser and better known, when he is unfair and illegal to be assaulted by a woman, even by classmates who are “underage” (or possibly a man!). I’m sure he’ll want to fight these underdogs as much as I do!”

Trump’s mood will likely continue to sour as he hears what DeSantis has to say about him now in our lengthy interview, the most personal and insightful he’s ever given.

A picture of Piers Morgan and Ron DeSantis.
In the interview, DeSantis said, “I have what it takes to be president and I can beat Biden.”

It was clear that the governor had had enough of Trump’s constant baiting and felt ready to take on him in a potentially bitter White House battle.

And in a series of jabs at what is likely his greatest Republican candidate rival, DeSantis slammed Trump for his character flaws, chaotic leadership style and his handling of the COVID pandemic — most notably, ditching controversial health chief Dr. Anthony Fauci had stayed at his post to help lead the White House coronavirus task force.

Trump even presented Fauci with a Presidential Commendation Medal in one of his final acts as President.

A picture of Donald Trump.
Donald Trump has announced his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election.

A picture of Stormy Daniels.
DeSantis opened up on Trump’s possible indictment over alleged payoff to Stormy Daniels (pictured)
Getty Images

When I asked DeSantis to point out specific differences between him and Trump, he said, “Well, I think there are a couple of things. The approach to COVID was different. I would have fired someone like Fauci. I think he got way too big for his pants and I think he did a lot of damage.”

DeSantis also criticized Trump’s chaotic, self-obsessed and divisive leadership style, saying:

“I also think that only in relation to my approach to leadership, I get personnel in government that have the people’s agenda and share our agenda. You bring your own agenda, you’re gone. We just won’t have that. The way we run the government is not a daily drama in my opinion. Focus on the big picture and put points on the board and I think that’s something that’s very important.

As for the rude nicknames, he scoffed:

“I don’t know how to spell hypocrisy. I don’t really know what it means, but I kind of like it, it’s long, it has a lot of vowels. We’ll go with it, that’s fine. I mean, you can call me whatever you want, as long as you also call me a winner, because that’s what we did in Florida, put a lot of points on the board and really took this state to the next level.”

So far, DeSantis has never engaged in Trump’s regular attempts to provoke him, and he doesn’t intend to make it a habit.

“To me, it’s just background noise,” he said. “I don’t care about arguing with people on social media. It’s no good for the people I represent. So we’re really just focused on getting wins day in and day out, and if I got involved in all that endeavour, I wouldn’t be able to be an affective governor. So, I don’t think it’s something that makes sense to me.”

There was a time when DeSantis would never have dared speak like that about Trump, whose presidential endorsement when he first ran for governor almost certainly left him with a razor-thin victory over Andrew Gillum by only 34,000 votes crossed the finish line.

I reminded him of what Trump tweeted before the 2018 election: “Ron DeSantis is a brilliant young leader. Yale and then Harvard, who would make a great governor of Florida. He loves our country. He’s a real fighter.”

A picture of Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis also criticized Trump’s leadership style during the interview.

A picture of Donald Trump.
The former president has been vocal about his opinion of the Florida governor on social media.

DeSantis, 44, chuckled, “Things have changed a bit I guess. It is what it is.”

Then he talked about their former friendship.

“We had a good relationship [when I was a Congressman and I think one of the reasons he got to know me is because I saw the Russia collusion thing as a farce from the beginning. Very few people said that. We had a handful of us in Congress that were fighting back against that. So, I would go on TV, and I would defend him when it wasn’t popular and when it was kinda politically risky, but I just thought it was the right thing to do and then I thought that he had good ideas for the country. And then when I became Governor, his last two years as President, we worked very well together. He had a place in Florida and worked well with us to serve our state.”

But then came the big break-up.

“You made a fatal error in your relationship with Donald Trump,” I suggested.

“What’s that?”

“You got too popular.”

DeSantis laughed loudly.

“Well, I would say if you look at some of the change from that . . . the major thing that’s happened that’s changed his tune was my re-election victory.”

It was, mainly because while most of Trump’s big endorsements did badly in the midterms, his previous pet student was by far the biggest Republican winner, landing a massive new majority by more than 1.5 million votes in a stunning validation of his leadership by Florida voters.

“If you’re [Trump] Trying desperately to get back into the White House was a nightmare,” I said.

“In my opinion, we should want the country to be good,” DeSantis replied. “I want other Republicans to be okay. I want them to outshine me. We set a great standard in Florida, let everyone enjoy themselves.”

We met just two hours after he delivered a disapproving moral stick to Trump over his Stormy Daniels legal scandal.

A picture of Ron DeSantis.
During the interview, DeSantis criticized Trump for how he was handling the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically for telling Dr. kept Anthony Fauci in position.

When I asked him if he wanted to be censored as he sounded when he spoke about Trump allegedly paying off porn stars, he doubled down and replied, “Well, there’s a lot of speculation as to what the underlying behavior is. It’s supposed to be, and the reality is it’s right in front of my wheelhouse. I mean, that’s just not something I can talk to.”

The message was clear: I’m not like Trump when it comes to shady behavior.

And when I subsequently asked whether a leader’s personal conduct mattered, he contrasted Trump with previous presidents with a higher moral code.

“At the end of the day as a leader,” he said. “You really want to look at people like our founding fathers, what kind of character, that’s not to say you never make a mistake in your personal life, but I think what kind of character do you bring with you? Someone who has really set the standard is George Washington because he has always put the Republic ahead of his own personal interests. When we won the American Revolution, Washington gave up its sword.[King[GeorgeIIIsaidhe’sthegreatestmanintheworldifhegivesuppowerIthinkthepersonismmoreabouthowyouhandleyourpublicdutiesandthekindofcharacteryoubringothatendeavor”[König[GeorgeIIIsagteerseidergrößteMannderWeltwennerdieMachtaufgibtIchdenkebeiderPersongehtesmehrdarumwieSiemitIhrenöffentlichenPflichtenumgehenundwelcheArtvonCharakterSiefürdiesesUnterfangenmitbringen[King[GeorgeIIIsaidhe’sthegreatestmanintheworldifhegivesuppowerIthinkthepersonismoreabouthowyouhandleyourpublicdutiesandthekindofcharacteryoubringtothatendeavor”

I asked him how important truth is to him in a world where leaders like Trump and recently ousted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have played with facts so loosely. “People feel, whether in the US or the UK, that deviation from the truth is an important factor in leadership?”

“100%,” he replied. “Truth is essential. We have to agree that there is a certain reality to the world we live in, and if we can just create our own facts, we will never agree on anything or ever really be able to make politics in a meaningful way , and yes, it is not your truth or my truth, it is THE truth.”

There’s no doubt that DeSantis is now preparing to take on the man who claims to have made him who he is.

I asked him if he was familiar with the story of Frankenstein and he said he had seen the film.

“And what are you referring to?” He grinned, knowing what I was referring to.

“DR. Frankenstein creates a monster, then loses control of the monster, and eventually the monster kills him,” I reminded him. “You know the parallel I make . . .”

He chuckled. “Let’s put the country first instead of worrying about any personality or any type of individual. . . At the end of the day, I am a vessel for the aspirations of the people I represent. It’s not about me, as Ronald Reagan said, “There’s no limit to what you can achieve if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

“That’s true,” I replied, “but you’re dealing with someone who definitely cares about who gets the credit and is desperate to win back the White House.”

“Well, I haven’t dealt with anyone yet,” DeSantis replied.

Not quite.

But after this explosive interview, I’m sure he will be very soon.

Piers Morgan’s interview with Gov. DeSantis will air Thursday on Piers Morgan Uncensored, Fox Nation. Ron DeSantis opens fire on Trump’s character, messy style


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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