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Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis fired a shot late this week at Republicans politicians who blindly support former President Donald Trump, suggesting that conservative leaders must not be “listless vessels” who hang on Trump’s every word and instead should be guided by “principle” and focused on serving the American people.
After the Trump campaign and some of Trump’s supporters in Congress accused the governor of disparaging all those who support Trump, Team DeSantis fired back.
The back and forth began when DeSantis sat down with the Florida Standard’s editor-in-chief Will Witt, who asked the governor about accusations from the Trump camp that he is a “RINO.”
“I think that we have a strand in our party that views supporting Trump as whether you are a RINO or not, and so you could be the most conservative person since sliced bread, unless you’re kissing his rear end, they will somehow call you a RINO,” DeSantis said. “So it’s been totally detached from principle, in what you actually believe, and results. And it’s more about, you know, just what faction you happen to do.”
“So there will be people who are huge Trump supporters, like in Congress, who have incredibly liberal left-wing records that is really just atrocious, and yet they’re viewed by some of these folks as like, really, really good,” he continued. “Then you have other people, you know, like a Congressman Chip Roy, who has endorsed me, Congressman Thomas Massie. These guys have records of principle fighting the swamp that are second to none. And yet, they will be attacked by some of these people and called RINOs.”
“So it’s just been totally detached from any type of substance. And ultimately, a movement can’t be about the personality of one individual. 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,” he concluded. “Because if you’re not rooted in principle, if all we are is listless vessels that are 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.”
“If all we are is listless vessels that are 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.” pic.twitter.com/zAaxdYOGbk
— Marina Medvin 🇺🇸 (@MarinaMedvin) August 19, 2023
The Trump campaign and some of Trump’s congressional supporters responded to DeSantis’ remarks by claiming that his “listless vessels” comment was directed at all of those who support or voted for the former president.
“DeSantis goes full-blown Hillary and call[s] MAGA supporters ‘Listless Vessels,’” tweeted Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung.
“I don’t know why anyone running for president would put down half the electorate, and identify them, call them ‘listless vessels’ because they support the former president,” Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) told Fox News in a clip retweeted by Trump War Room.
“To Hillary Clinton, Trump supporters are ‘deplorables.’ To Ron DeSantis, they are ‘listless vessels.’ The truth is, Trump supporters are patriots,” MAGA, Inc. spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said in a statement. “DeSantis must immediately apologize for his disgraceful insult.”
DeSantis Press Secretary Bryan Griffin responded to the claims from the Trump camp. “The dishonest media refuses to report the facts — Donald Trump and some congressional endorsers are ‘listless vessels,’” he said. “Why? Because Trump and DC insiders feel he is entitled to your vote. Ron DeSantis believes your trust should be earned and has the vision, plan, and record to beat Joe Biden and reverse the decline of our country. That’s why Ron DeSantis will be showing up on Wednesday night to debate, and Donald Trump will not.”