Jan 31, 2023 - Politics & Policy

DeSantis on Trump attacks: I handily won re-election

lorida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference to announce the award of $100 million for beach recovery following Hurricanes Ian and Nicole in Daytona Beach Shores in Florida.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference in Daytona Beach Shores in Florida. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) flexed his 2022 midterm election victory margin when he was asked about former President Trump's latest line of attack against him.

The big picture: The rising conservative star has largely avoided responding directly to Trump's attacks that have mounted since the midterms, which triggered an internal reckoning over who might be best positioned to lead the party.

  • Trump's influence as a GOP kingmaker came into question after the midterm elections, while DeSantis had a resounding victory.
  • DeSantis is unlikely to make a final decision about a potential 2024 presidential bid until at least May, Axios' Josh Kraushaar reports.

Catch up quick: Trump, who in November launched a 2024 presidential bid, criticized DeSantis during his campaign trail debut over the weekend, saying the Florida governor was "disloyal."

  • Trump has frequently said DeSantis owes his political success to Trump's endorsement in the 2018 governor's race.
  • The former president also said DeSantis had shifting positions on COVID-19 vaccines and closures during the pandemic, "there are Republican governors that did not close their states," per CNN.
  • "Florida was closed for a long period of time," Trump added.

Driving the news: DeSantis during a Tuesday news conference in Florida did not directly name Trump while touting his own re-election.

  • "I roll out of bed, I have people attacking me from all angles, it’s been happening for many, many years," "When you’re an elected executive, you have to make all kinds of decisions. You got to steer that ship."
  • "And the good thing is, is that the people are able to render a judgment on that — whether they re-elect you or not,” DeSantis said.
  • “And I’m happy to say, you know, in my case, not only did we win re-election, we won with the highest percentage of the vote that any Republican governor candidate has in the history of the state of Florida,” he added.

Zoom out: DeSantis won re-election over his Democratic opponent Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) by nearly 20 points in November.

  • His decisive victory, while the rest of his party underperformed in midterm elections, highlighted his prospects as a potential 2024 presidential candidate.

Go deeper... DeSantis calls for "new blood" at RNC

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