Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and former President Donald Trump took Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis to task for saying Ukraine is not a "vital" national security interest to the U.S.
But DeSantis shot back Thursday night, telling Newsmax's "Eric Bolling The Balance" that "I never changed anything" on the position of deterring Vladimir Putin or Russian aggression.
DeSantis admitted he once voted for lethal aid to Ukraine as a House GOP representative, but the current prospect of an "open-ended blank-check policy" to support Ukraine under President Joe Biden is a whole different level.
"That was to deter Russia from invading," DeSantis told host Eric Bolling. "And you know what? They didn't invade for many years. And that only broke down when Biden got in. I think there's a variety of reasons for that, but I think part of the reason was the failure in Afghanistan.
"I think Putin believed he can get away with more, because he saw how weak Biden was.
"That's a much different situation than now being in a situation where you have Ukraine and Russia fighting over kind of the borderlands in the far eastern part of Ukraine and over places like Crimea."
Ultimately, DeSantis told Bolling he is more of an American first Republican than some GOP critics.
"I care more about securing our own border in the United States than I do about the Russia-Ukraine border," he continued. "And it seems like the establishment, some of the people that you mentioned, they ignore the problems that we have here at home as Americans.
"The border is one that is costing American lives.
"That's being allowed to happen without any of these people batting an eye."
DeSantis echoed the oft-repeated Trump position that the U.S. has to go back to Trump-era energy independence that Biden has unwound.
"If you want to weaken Putin, why don't you permit more gas pipelines here in the United States?" DeSantis asked. "Why aren't we drilling for more oil here in the United States?
"I think that would really do more to weaken him than anything these folks are cooking up."
Right now the U.S. is pouring tens of billions of dollars for a mere "stalemate" in Ukraine with Russia in lieu of the United States' own national security and military defense, according to DeSantis.
"What is that doing to our current weapons stockpiles here in the United States? And the fact of the matter is they're declining," DeSantis said. "That impacts our ability to respond to threats in other places in the world.
"My view in terms of U.S. national security is that our No. 1 threat by far is China and the CCP. They're strong militarily. They're strong economically. They've got the largest industrial base in human history, and they have ambitions, and their interests conflict with ours."
Critics of his position that Ukraine is not a "vital" U.S. national security interest "are not supporting a stronger America," DeSantis concluded.
"They're weakening us here at home, and they're making it more difficult for us to be able do things like check the influence of China abroad," he said.
About NEWSMAX TV:
NEWSMAX is the fastest-growing cable news channel in America!
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.