Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is finally unloading attacks against Donald Trump following months of avoiding criticism of the former president and now his No. 1 Republican presidential primary rival

DeSantis says Trump is 'running to the LEFT' and has 'changed' since he first ran in 2016

Ron DeSantis is finally going all-in against Donald Trump in the days after formally entering the 2024 Republican presidential primary race.

For months the Florida governor avoided taking swipes at the ex-president despite a barrage of attacks levied against him from the Trump side. But now, DeSantis has made some of his most pointed remarks against the man whose endorsement he once sought.

Speaking with Tennessee conservative radio host Matt Murphy, DeSantis claimed that Trump ‘is a different guy today’ than when he was running for president in 2016.

He also insisted that Trump’s campaign continues to show more signs of leaning left-ward rather than sticking to conservative values – something he promises not to do as a candidate or as president. 

Following the governor’s delayed and glitch-filled Twitter Spaces announcement with Elon Musk, DeSantis has taken to more traditional media sources as part of his post-campaign launch media glitz, like radio.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is finally unloading attacks against Donald Trump following months of avoiding criticism of the former president and now his No. 1 Republican presidential primary rival

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is finally unloading attacks against Donald Trump following months of avoiding criticism of the former president and now his No. 1 Republican presidential primary rival 

In the 24 hours after announcing his bid, DeSantis’ campaign raised $8.2 million – dwarfing the $6.3 million Joe Biden raised within 24 hours of announcing his candidacy in 2019.

Donald Trump raised $9.5 million in the six weeks after announcing in mid-November his 2024 campaign, which DeSantis is well on track to beating.

‘It seems like he’s running to the left and I have always been somebody that’s just been moored in conservative principles,’ DeSantis told Murphy. ‘So these will be interesting debates to have, but I can tell you, you don’t win nationally by moving to the left, you win nationally by standing for bold policy. We showed that in Florida. I never watered down anything I did.’

‘I don’t know what happened to Donald Trump; this is a different guy today than when he was running in 2015 and 2016 and I think the direction that he’s going with his campaign is the wrong direction,’ DeSantis said.

He also said in a separate interview that Trump’s early-day COVID-19 policies ‘destroyed millions of people’s lives.’

‘When he turned the country over to Fauci in March of 2020 that destroyed millions of people’s lives,’ DeSantis said, referring to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

On Fox News, DeSantis said that among his Day One priorities as president would be to fire Trump’s handpicked FBI director Christopher Wray.

In a Newsmax interview on Thursday, DeSantis even alleged that Trump is leaning left when it comes to immigration – despite many critics claiming the former president was too hard on illegal immigrants.

‘I think that some of the things he’s been attacking me on I’ve been a little surprised that because he’s attacking me from the left, and that really wasn’t the Donald Trump from 2015 and 2016,’ DeSantis told Eric Bolling.

‘He was a hard charger, leaning-in on all the issues, very edgy on conservative issues – and it was part of the reason he did so well,’ the governor added.

‘He’s also hitting me against voting against immigration amnesty,’ DeSantis lamented. ‘There was the Goodlatte to bill in 2018 – and he said that that is akin to voting against the wall. But that bill was a 2 million-person amnesty for illegal aliens, very little money for any border security. All conservatives opposed it. He did support it as president, which a lot of us were upset about.’

‘But to hit me for taking the America First position, I just think is a little strange. I’m not sure what his strategy is, but I think he’s taking positions that are a little bit different than then four or five years ago.’

Notably, the Florida governor is making the case that he will better deliver on the promises that Trump made and failed to see through in his single presidential term.

‘At the end of the day,’ DeSantis told Murphy when speaking about Trump, ‘he is going left on a lot of the fiscal, he’s going left on culture, he’s even sided with Disney against me.’

Following his official entry into the 2024 race for the White House, DeSantis is hitting the road next week on a campaign swing to three early primary contest states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

It is unclear whether his wife and Florida’s first lady Casey DeSantis will join him for the swing.

Casey, a former broadcast reporter, cancer survivor and mother of three, is largely seen as the driving force behind her husband’s rise on the national political scene.

Mother-of-three Casey DeSantis, 42, has taken center stage with her dazzling outfits, and is largely seen as the driving force behind her husband's rise on the national political stage

Mother-of-three Casey DeSantis, 42, has taken center stage with her dazzling outfits, and is largely seen as the driving force behind her husband’s rise on the national political stage

Despite unloading on Trump Thursday, DeSantis also implied that, as president, he would consider pardoning Trump if he is charged with a crime related to the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack.

‘On Day 1 I will have folks that will get together and look at all these cases who people are victims of weaponization or political targeting and will be aggressive in issuing pardons,’ DeSantis told The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show when asked about pardoning individuals charged in relation to the January 6 storming.

‘We see that in a variety of contexts, some of which you mentioned,’ DeSantis said. ‘Some of it is the FBI going after parents going to school board meetings, some of it’s how they treat a pro-life demonstrator, how they don’t go after people that are attacking pro-lifers.’

DeSantis was then asked if he also would consider pardoning Trump if he’s charged.

‘I would say an example of disfavored treatment based on politics or weaponization would be included in that review no matter how small or how big,’ he responded.