Florida Governor Ron DeSantis criticized some members of his party for being too beholden to former President Donald Trump rather than adhering to conservative principles. Addressing claims labeling him as a “RINO” (Republican in Name Only), DeSantis expressed to The Florida Standard that the GOP should prioritize their political convictions over any single personality if they hope to reclaim the presidency in 2024.
DeSantis emphasized the importance of standing firm on principles, saying a movement’s longevity can’t hinge on one individual’s charisma, but rather on the values it pursues for the American public.
While DeSantis was once viewed as closely aligned with Trump, recent polls show him trailing other potential GOP candidates such as Vivek Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. DeSantis, however, believes that most Republicans see him as genuine in advancing the party’s core principles. He remarked that allegiance to Trump has become a litmus test for some, irrespective of one’s conservative credentials. In his view, blind loyalty to Trump has overshadowed principle-based politics.
DeSantis also noted the inconsistency in the way some Republicans are perceived. He mentioned lawmakers with strong conservative track records, such as Congressman Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Congressman Thomas Massie, who have been unfairly labeled as “RINOs” by certain factions.
Further, DeSantis questioned Trump’s commitment to cleaning up Washington D.C., specifically pointing out that Trump did not remove figures like FBI Director Christopher Ray and former NIAD director Anthony Fauci from their posts. DeSantis pledged that if elected, he would take immediate action against individuals he perceives as part of the establishment.
This critique from DeSantis emerged shortly after reports indicated that a political consultancy firm affiliated with his super PAC had advised him to publicly defend Trump during debates. Interestingly, while he was advised to challenge Vivek Ramaswamy in the debates, DeSantis refrained from doing so in his recent interview with The Florida Standard.