Speaking at a Turning Points USA conference over the weekend, Ms Lake turned heads when she started praising the Florida governor.
She called Mr DeSantis “gutsy”, before adding: “He has bigger – okay, wait let me think about how I want to word this. My staff always says, whatever you do, do not say balls.”
Ms Lake continued: “That guy has a backbone made of steel.
“I’ll tell you what he’s got... I don’t know if you’ve heard of this but he’s got BDE. Everybody know what that means? Ask your kids about it later,” she added.
The popular phrase is a general euphemism for hyper-masculinity.
“I call it ‘Big DeSantis Energy’.”
She then compared Mr DeSantis to the 45th president: “He’s got the same kind of BDE that president Trump has.”
“And frankly, he has the same kind of BDE that we want all of our elected leaders to have.”
Her remark was soon widely shared on social media, with a number of people taking potshots at the Republican.
“The party of ‘family values’ strikes again,” California governor Gavin Newsom wrote on Twitter, sharing a part of her speech.
Former senator Daylin Leach added: “These days, whenever I watch the news, I feel like I’ve taken too much acid.”
“This is of course so juvenile that it will be – as it should be – mocked and ridiculed,” said writer and commentator Bill Kristol.
“But if I can make a serious if obvious point: The cult of the Leader isn’t just ludicrous. It’s dangerous. In a way, it can be particularly dangerous if it can be easily dismissed as ludicrous.”
“Stormy Daniels would like to have a word,” wrote Twitter user Dot Robinson.
Ms Lake was unfazed by the criticism. “Uh-oh! Twitter is on fire because I said president Trump and governor Ron DeSantis both have ‘BDE’,” she said in a tweet. “I stand by what I said.”
Ms Lake, a former news anchor, beat Karrin Taylor Robson to win the Republican gubernatorial primary earlier this month.
She has been one of the most prominent parroters of Mr Trump’s unproven claims that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen”.