Striking a contrast with the attacking style of former President Donald Trump – and even his own bold leadership – Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis on Newsmax was very cautious not to alienate Trump supporters.
DeSantis even shared some appreciation for the former president.
"Most of our voters appreciate a lot of the things that President Trump did," DeSantis told "Eric Bolling The Balance" on Thursday. "I do. He's been attacking me a lot, but I still give him credit for the things that he did well, especially with the economy in the first three years."
DeSantis repeated his pitch that Trump would be a one-term president, while he would give conservative voters a potential eight years in the White House.
"They also understand that you need someone that can serve two terms," DeSantis told host Eric Bolling. "You need to have somebody that's going to be able to win and win big. And so I think we have a lot of folks that will consider somebody like me, who has proven to be very strong."
DeSantis was surprised Trump has chosen Disney's side in attacking his campaign before it launched Wednesday.
"I'm standing up to people like Disney, and with due respect to the former president, he's taking Disney's side in this now," DeSantis continued. "I'm standing against Disney. I'm standing for the kids. I'm standing for the parents. I don't think these kids should be sexualized.
"We took away their self-governing status, and I'm not backing down one inch from that. I think our voters want to see somebody that can fight, but also somebody that can win."
And, DeSantis lamented, Trump is attacking him "from the left."
"I think some of the things he's been attacking me on, I've been a little bit surprised at, because he's attacking me from the left," he said. "And that really wasn't the Donald Trump from 2015 and 2016. 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.
"But when he's taking Disney's side against me, I just kind of wonder. OK, I get that he wants to hit me, but don't take the side of a multinational corporation that wants to sexualize kids."
"He's also hitting me against voting against immigration amnesty," DeSantis added. "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 four or five years ago."
Trump supporters trying to cast DeSantis as backed by the establishment — including anti-Trump Fox board member Paul Ryan and anti-Trump Fox News analyst Karl Rove — were scoffed at by the Florida governor.
"I have not spoken to Paul Ryan since I've been governor," DeSantis said. "I've met Karl Rove once in my life. They are not involved in my political operation, so that's just manufactured garbage that people put out there on the line.
"So people are telling you that, I hope that they'll look at the facts rather than do that.
"You also look at my record. How many establishment Republicans would have sent illegal aliens to Martha's Vineyard? How many establishment Republicans would have stood up against Disney?"
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