Republican presidential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis sparked backlash Saturday for a comment about Trump’s loyalist base that critics say is like “Crooked Hillary” Clinton.
DeSantis sat down for a recent interview, making the case that the movement behind former President Donald Trump is rooted in personality and “completely detached from principle.”
“A movement cannot be part of an individual’s personality,” he said. “The movement has to be part of what you’re trying to achieve for the American people, and that has to be based on principle.”
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“Because if you’re not rooted in principle, if all you’re going to do is be a listless vessel that you just have to follow, you know, whatever happens to come up the pike at Truth Social every morning, it’s not That’s a strong move,” he continued in an interview with the Florida Standard, referring to Trump’s social media website.
DeSantis said Trump’s base values loyalty to Trump’s conservative principles and that “unless you kiss his behind, they’re going to call you a RINO (Republican In Name Only) somehow.”
“There are people who are big supporters of Trump like in Congress who have, like, unbelievably liberal left records that are really bad, and yet they’re viewed by some of these people as, like, really, really good,” he said. “Then you have other people, you know, like a Congressman Chip Roy who endorsed me, Congressman Thomas Massie, these guys have records of principle, fighting in the swamp second to the left , and yet they will be attacked by some of these people. and called RINO.”
Trump’s campaign and his supporters seized on DeSantis’ comment about “slack ships,” comparing it to Hillary Clinton’s famous “basket of deplorables” during the 2016 presidential election.
“DeSantis is now running the same, failed playbook as Hillary Clinton,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung told Fox News Digital. “He called all Trump supporters ‘unwilling ships’ like Crooked [Hillary] did in 2016 when he called us ‘pathetic.’ How is it done? He needs to stop listening to his establishment managers and start listening to the American people telling him to go home.
The DeSantis campaign hit back at the “dishonest media” in an X post defending the governor’s remarks.
“The dishonest media refuses to report the facts – Donald Trump and some congressional endorsers are ‘unwilling vessels.’ Why? Because Trump and DC insiders feel he is entitled to your vote,” wrote press secretary Bryan Griffin.
“@RonDeSantis believes your trust must be earned and has the vision, plan, and record to defeat Joe Biden and reverse the decline of our country,” he said. “So Ron DeSantis will show up Wednesday night to debate, and Donald Trump won’t.”
“The media, DC insiders, and GOP grifting caucus are going hard on this because they know it’s true,” added Christina Pushaw, rapid response director for the DeSantis campaign.
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The DeSantis campaign declined to comment further when reached by Fox News Digital on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign asked the governor to “immediately” ask for his comments.
“For Hillary Clinton, Trump supporters are ‘pathetic.’ To Ron DeSantis, they were ‘inert vessels,'” written by Karoline Leavitta spokesperson for Make America Great Again Inc. “The truth is, Trump supporters are patriotic. Ron DeSantis showed his true colors. which got him elected governor. DeSantis needs to apologize immediately for his disgraceful insult.”
Republicans presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy joined the fray Sunday morning by blasting DeSantis as a “robot” politician.
“The real danger to our movement is the rise of ‘listless-vessel’ robot politicians who blindly follow the orders of their Super PACs,” Ramaswamy wrote in X.
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“I don’t know why anyone running for president would put half of the voters and identify them, call them insipid vessels because they supported the former president,” Rep. Nancy Mace, RS.C., spoke on Fox News on Saturday night. “And you’re right, he and I don’t always see eye to eye, but I call it like I see it.
“Why Ron DeSantis would do that when his numbers are beyond me,” he added.
“Like Crooked Hillary when she called Trump supporters deplorable, DeSantis can’t hide her hatred for the patriots who supported my father,” wrote Trump’s sonDonald Trump Jr.