The recent Republican debate witnessed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stepping into the spotlight, but not without raising questions and concerns. Even former President Donald Trump took to social media to voice his criticism of DeSantis’ performance.
Trump’s initial post, made shortly after midnight, didn’t pull any punches. “DeSanctimonious was a ‘BOMB’ tonight, especially with his softball interview with Sean Hannity. This guy has totally forgotten his past,” Trump wrote.
By labeling DeSantis as “DeSanctimonious” and accusing him of forgetting his past, Trump seemed to be casting doubt on DeSantis’ authenticity and consistency as a candidate seeking the GOP’s nomination.
Further fanning the flames, the former president drew attention to a discrepancy in DeSantis’ claims about the number of votes he received in Florida compared to Trump’s own record-breaking tally.
“Ron DeSanctimonious is always talking about the number of votes he got in Florida. He doesn’t say that I got a record 1.1 Million more votes than him. He forgot!!!” he wrote.
Critics have also pointed to DeSantis’ response when candidates were asked if they would support Trump as the party’s nominee, even in the face of a legal conviction.
While candidates, including anti-woke businessman and promising candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott(R-SC), and former North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum raised their hands in support of Trump, it took a look at other candidates’ reactions for DeSantis to raise his hands.
“Wow. That was weird. Moderator just asked if Trump were the nominee and he were convicted, would you support him, raise your hand. A bunch of hands went up. DeSantis looked around first, then raised his hand. Terrible,” former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) wrote.
Wow. That was weird. Moderator just asked if Trump were the nominee and he were convicted, would you support him, raise your hand. A bunch of hands went up. DeSantis looked around first, then raised his hand. Terrible.
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) August 24, 2023
Aside from Trump’s assertions, other figures have expressed concerns that the Florida governor was not himself at the debate.
“DeSantis obviously has advisors telling him to adopt a personality that isn’t natural for him. The awkward fake smiling is part of that. He needs to fire those idiots, whoever they are, and just be himself,” political commentator Matt Walsh commented.
DeSantis obviously has advisors telling him to adopt a personality that isn’t natural for him. The awkward fake smiling is part of that. He needs to fire those idiots, whoever they are, and just be himself. He should have opened the debate last night by saying this:
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) August 24, 2023
“This would do so well for him. Such an obvious thing: just be yourself. I prefer ornery Desantis to whatever awkward variation of the day his extensive team is trying to create,” Candace Owens responded, agreeing with Walsh’s tweet.
The “awkward fake smiling” came moments after DeSantis told an audience, “We will get the job done and I will not let you down.” While he tried to accompany his promise with a confident smile, viewers have said it came off as bizarre and fake, with Democrat strategist Keith Edwards tweeting, “The delay of him trying to smile is insane???”
The delay of him trying to smile is insane???
— Keith Edwards (@keithedwards) August 24, 2023
Despite the criticism, DeSantis’ campaign has asserted victory, even citing a New York Post headline that dubbed him the “winner” of the debate. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu also agrees that the declining candidate “did very well,” asserting that “he looked presidential.”