Editor’s Note: This article has been updated after the New York Post removed from its story certain quotes that it erroneously attributed to DeSantis.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis punched back at former President Donald Trump after enduring months of attacks from the man he appears increasingly likely to challenge for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
DeSantis made the remarks in an interview with Piers Morgan on Fox Nation’s “Piers Morgan Uncensored” that is set to air later this week.
The remarks from DeSantis come after the former president has launched multiple attacks on the governor since the midterm elections ended, including trying to brand the governor with derogatory names, promoting baseless claims that DeSantis is a groomer, and claiming that Democrat billionaire George Soros endorsed DeSantis.
DeSantis was slammed by the former president on Monday after he spoke out against the prosecution of Trump by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office investigation, calling it “an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office.” DeSantis took a swipe at Trump while making the remarks, saying, “I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair. I just I can’t speak to that.”
Trump responded on social media by writing: “Ron DeSanctimonious will probably find out about FALSE ACCUSATIONS & FAKE STORIES sometime in the future, as he gets older, wiser, and better known, when he’s unfairly and illegally attacked by a woman, even classmates that are ‘underage’ (or possibly a man!).”
While talking to Morgan at the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee, DeSantis gave his strongest indication yet that he intends to enter the race for president.
“If I were to run, I’m running against Biden, Like we [he and Trump] are competing for the Republican [nomination], potentially, I get that, but ultimately, you know, the guy I’m gonna focus on is Biden because I think he’s failed the country,” DeSantis said. “I think the country wants a change. I think they want a fresh start and a new direction and so we’ll be very vocal about that. I spent a lot of time in Florida fighting back.”
When asked if he thinks he can beat Biden in a presidential race, DeSantis responded, “I think so.”
Morgan wrote in an op-ed describing the upcoming interview that it was “clear that the governor has had enough of Trump’s constant baiting and felt ready to take him on.”
CLICK HERE TO GET THE DAILY WIRE APP
When asked about differences between himself and Trump, DeSantis said that there were several.
“The approach to COVID was different. I would have fired somebody like Fauci,” DeSantis said. “I think he got way too big for his britches, and I think he did a lot of damage.”
“I also think just in terms of my approach to leadership, I get personnel in the government who have the agenda of the people and share our agenda,” he continued. “You bring your own agenda in you’re gone. We’re just not gonna have that. So, the way we run the government, I think, is no daily drama, focus on the big picture, and put points on the board, and I think that’s something that’s very important.”
DeSantis laughed off Trump’s derogatory nicknames, saying: “I don’t know how to spell the sanctimonious one.”
“I don’t really know what it means, but I kinda like it, it’s long, it’s got a lot of vowels,” he said. “We’ll go with that, that’s fine. I mean you can call me whatever you want, just as long as you also call me a winner because that’s what we’ve been able to do in Florida, is put a lot of points on the board and really take this state to the next level.”
“To me, it’s just background noise,” he said. “It’s not important for me to be fighting with people on social media. It’s not accomplishing anything for the people I represent. So, we really just focus on knocking out victories, day after day, and if I got involved in all the undertow, I would not be able to be an effective governor. So, I don’t think it’s something that makes sense for me.”
DeSantis said that he had a good relationship with Trump, which started because he repeatedly defended the president over false allegations that his campaign colluded with Russia in 2016.
“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,” he said. “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.”
DeSantis said that Trump’s tune changed dramatically after he dominated in the midterm elections while the anticipated red wave really did not materialize across the country the way many thought it would.
“My view though is we should want the country to do well,” DeSantis said. “I want other Republicans to do well. I want them to eclipse me. We’re setting a great standard in Florida, have everyone up their game.”
DeSantis said that as a leader, it was important to look at America’s Founding Fathers for the type of character that is needed to be president.
“It’s not saying that you don’t ever make a mistake in your personal life, but I think what type of character are you bringing?” he said. “So, somebody who really set the standard is George Washington because he always put the Republic over his own personal interest. When we won the American Revolution, Washington surrendered his sword. King George III said he’s the greatest man in the world if he gives up power. I think the person is more about how you handle your public duties and the kind of character you bring to that endeavor.”
“Let’s put the country first rather than worry about any personalities or any type of individual … at the end of the day, I’m a vessel for the aspirations of the people I represent,” he said. “It’s not about me, as Ronald Reagan said, ‘there’s no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.’”
DeSantis said that he has not made a final decision about whether he will run for president during this cycle.
“We’re gonna put a lot of points on the board. And then we’ll see how the dust settles after that, but I can tell you a lot of people realize the country is not going in the right direction and believe that what we’ve been able to do in Florida, if we can apply that nationally, we can get America back on track and back on our foundations,” he said. “And so, I take that very seriously. It’s humbling that people have come to me and asked me to do it or urged me to do it. So, stay tuned.”