Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis responded to former President Donald Trump’s latest criticism for the first time Tuesday, dismissing the attacks he has faced more broadly as “noise,” saying he was “just telling people to watch the scoreboard last Tuesday night.” ”
“One of the things I’ve learned in this job is that when you’re driving, when you’re doing things, yes, you get fired up. That’s just the nature of it,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Fort Walton Beach.
“I don’t think any governor has been attacked more than I have, especially by the corporate media, in my four years in office. And yet, I think what you learn is just noise. And what really matters is: Are you leading? On the issues. Are you putting yourself out there? Are you delivering results for the people? And are you standing up for the people? And if you do that, nothing else matters.”
“And that’s what we did. We are focused on results and leadership. And you know at the end of the day, I would tell people to watch the score last Tuesday night,” he added.
It’s the first time commentators have publicly addressed DeSantis’ midterm results since election night, when his 19-point victory in Florida was highlighted as a bright spot for Republicans. Over the past week, DeSantis has largely avoided situations where he has to face questions about Trump or his future political intentions.
In the weeks leading up to the election, DeSantis has refused to engage with Trump’s escalating foes and has generally dismissed any 2024 talks as premature. But Tuesday’s remarks offered an early indication of how DeSantis might frame a head-to-head campaign against Trump if he decides to run for the Republican nomination.
In the span of a week, Trump went from slapping the Florida governor with a new nickname (“DeSanctimonious”) to ignoring Republican demands to back off criticism of DeSantis ahead of Election Day to issuing a scathing statement. On the heels of DeSantis’ re-election, calling him “an average Republican governor.”
When DeSantis was later asked about the Republican Party’s “real concerns” about him and Trump, he replied that “some of this stuff is a little overblown in some of the media.” The Florida governor acknowledged that while there were some successes in the midterm elections, he said there were also “a lot of disappointments.”
Republicans did not win a majority in the Senate, and although they are on track to win a majority in the House, they have fallen far short of the predicted red tide.
“I mean, that’s just the reality. It was an incredibly disappointing performance, especially considering that (President Joe) Biden’s policies are very unpopular,” DeSantis said. “People think the country is going in the wrong direction.”
After praising his achievements in the state, DeSantis added, “And so Florida, I think, really shows what you can do to win, but to basically shift the overall political terrain in a very strong pro-liberty direction. And that’s what we’ve done here.”