Trump on DeSantis: ‘Whatever I want, he wants’

Former President Trump criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for his remarks about U.S. support for Ukraine on Monday, saying that the governor is just following in his footsteps.

DeSantis made headlines on Tuesday with his response to a questionnaire sent out by Fox New’s Tucker Carlson. DeSantis said that supporting Ukraine in its year-long fight against Russia is not one of America’s “vital interests,” while describing the war as a territorial dispute.

That provoked criticism from Democrats and some Republicans on Tuesday.

Trump has also sometimes criticized U.S. involvement in Ukraine, so his criticism of DeSantis was a little different.

He told reporters, according to a report by CBS News, that the governor is “following what I am saying. It is a flip-flop. He was totally different. Whatever I want, he wants.”

DeSantis rose to fame as a Trump support while he was a member of Congress from Florida. He was elected governor in 2018 and then swept to reelection last fall.

Now DeSantis is seen as the biggest rival to Trump for the GOP presidential nomination.

Trump also responded to Carlson’s questionnaire this week and said that Ukraine is not a “vital interest” for the U.S., but it is for Europe. He also said in a response to a separate question that if he were president, the “horrible war would end in 24 hours, or less.”

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who served under Trump as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations but is now running against him for the GOP nomination, issued a statement on Tuesday that sought to set her apart from both men.

“President Trump is right when he says Governor DeSantis is copying him—first in his style, then on entitlement reform, and now on Ukraine,” she said. “I have a different style than President Trump, and while I agree with him on most policies, I do not on those. Republicans deserve a choice, not an echo.”

Other Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.), pushed back on DeSantis’s comments on Tuesday. Rubio said that the war is not a “territorial dispute,” and Cheney said the governor was “wrong and seems to have forgotten the lessons of Ronald Reagan.”

Some Republicans have raised concerns over the amount of U.S. aid being provided to Ukraine during the war, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) saying in October that there will be no “blank check” to Ukraine if Republicans won the House.

DeSantis has previously criticized the Biden administration for sending aid to Ukraine, calling the U.S.’s strategy a “blank check policy with no clear strategic objective identified.” In the questionnaire, DeSantis added that the Russia-Ukraine war is a “territorial dispute,” and that it “distracts” from other challenges in the U.S.

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