Former President Donald Trump took aim at Florida governor Ron DeSantis, calling him “disloyal” and criticizing his 2020 Covid-19 restrictions.

The two used to be allies. DeSantis won his first Florida governorship in 2018, riding the wave of a Trump endorsement to victory.

Following his landslide reelection in November, DeSantis is considered a front-runner for the 2024 Republican Presidential nomination, placing him squarely in opposition to Trump’s already-announced 2024 candidacy. The former conservative allies appear to have become foes.

The remarks highlight the chilled relationship between the two Republican heavyweights.


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“There are Republican governors that did not close their states,” Trump said to reporters on his plane. “Florida was closed for a long period of time.”

“I had governors that decided not to close a thing, and that was up to them,” Trump said, implying that governors who didn’t follow national public health guidelines did the right thing.

In March 2020, DeSantis signed an executive order closing bars and nightclubs, following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. He also urged Florida residents to limit beach gatherings to less than ten people.

DeSantis retracted the rules in September 2020, signing an executive order that opened up bars and restaurants. The order was criticized by many in the public health community, as Covid-19 rates were in the middle of a spike.

DeSantis was among the few Republican governors to win convincingly in a swing state in the 2022 November midterm elections. He bucked the trend of other Trump-aligned candidates with a dominating 19-point victory. The sweeping win has catapulted the governor into the national stage, with numerous GOP leaders calling for him to run.

Many Trump-backed candidates lost races in the same cycle, leading party members to believe that Trump is in a weaker position now.

Trump has called DeSantis an “average governor” and nicknamed him “Ron DeSanctimonious.” Trump said in his first rally on the campaign trail, “Ron would have not been governor if it wasn’t for me.”

“So when I hear he might run, I consider that very disloyal,” he said.

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