Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday asked former President Donald J. escalated his animosity with Trump, arguing that his Republican presidential rival was weak on crime and immigration, and accused Dr. Anthony S. of making key decisions during the coronavirus pandemic. Fauci.
In an appearance with conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, Mr DeSantis accused GOP front-runner Mr Trump of “walking left” on criminal justice and immigration issues after winning the party’s base in 2015 and 2016.
He pledged that he would repeal what is known as the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice measure signed into law by Mr. Trump in 2018, including early-release programs and modified sentencing including mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. The laws were expanded.
“They created a bill, basically a jailbreak bill,” Mr. DeSantis said. “It has allowed dangerous people out of prison who have now re-offended and really, really hurt a lot of people.”
This year, The New York Times reported that Mr. DeSantis and his allies viewed the criminal justice bill, which Mr. Trump signed at the urging of his son-in-law Jared Kushner – and promptly regretted – as an area of political weakness, and That Mr. DeSantis indicated he would use it in the nomination fight. The bill is unpopular with parts of Mr Trump’s hardline base.
But for Mr. DeSantis, attacking Mr. Trump over the First Step Act is potentially complicated. Mr. DeSantis himself voted for the first version of the bill when he was in Congress, and Trump’s allies have sought to highlight that fact.
“So now swamp politician Ron DeSanctimonious is claiming he voted for it before he voted against it,” Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, said in a statement. “He sounds just like John Kerry. What a liar! He can’t run away from his disastrous, embarrassing and low-energy campaign announcement. Rookie mistakes and unforced errors – that’s who.
(Aides to Mr. DeSantis noted that the version of the bill he voted for looked vastly different, and that the final version passed when he was not in the House.)
When Mr. Shapiro asked Mr. DeSantis about Mr. Trump’s recent criticism that crime has risen under his watch in Florida, the former president’s adopted state, Mr. DeSantis flared up and said that Mr. Trump’s policies had undermined law and order. has weakened.
Mr DeSantis intensified his attacks on his one-time ally, whom he had avoided criticizing directly for months, in a bumpy Twitter event less than 48 hours after entering the race.
And as Mr. DeSantis moves to the right on issues like crime, some of his campaign’s internal strategy is coming to the fore.
At a fundraising meeting in Miami on Thursday, donors briefed Mr. DeSantis’ top campaign staff members on his policy position and how he should be presented to other Republicans, according to a leaked audio recording posted online by the website Florida Politics. , asked questions about.
A donor raised a question about the exact change, to which a campaign official eventually replied, “We’ve got just one primary victory to go back to normal.”
Donors and officials also discussed how to approach Republicans who support abortion rights. (Mr. DeSantis last month signed a six-week abortion ban in Florida, which has limited exceptions, while Mr. Trump has been hesitant to support a federal ban.)
A staff member offered a possible answer.
“Abortion is safe, legal and rare in Florida,” he said, repeating a phrase coined by former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. “It has not been banned. “It’s limited.”
In his interview with Mr. Shapiro on Friday, Mr. DeSantis sought to keep himself unwavering on illegal immigration, saying that Mr. Trump had attacked him for opposing amnesty legislation in Congress.
He also faulted Mr Trump for his administration’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, particularly Dr. The level of impact imposed by Fauci.
Dr. Fauci, who retired in January, has been a frequent target of Republican attacks on issues such as distance learning, stay-at-home orders and vaccine mandates.
“He responded by elevating Anthony Fauci and really handing the reins to Dr. Fauci, and I think with dire consequences for the United States,” Mr. DeSantis said. “I was a leader in this country in the fight against Fauci. We opposed him at every step.”
He said that Dr. Fauci should have been fired, but Trump honored him.
“I think the fact that Donald Trump congratulated Anthony Fauci on Trump’s last day in office as president was a gut punch to the millions of people in this country who were harmed by Fauci’s lockdown Was,” Mr. DeSantis said.
A day earlier, in a post by Mr. Trump on his Truth social platform, the former president slammed Mr. DeSantis over Florida’s response to the pandemic. He said even former New York governor Andrew M. Cuomo had done a better job than Mr. DeSantis of limiting the loss of life from the virus.
Mr DeSantis described Mr Trump’s claim as “very bizarre” and said it suggested he would double down on his actions if another pandemic were to occur.