GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis has “taken the gloves off” when it comes to attacking former President Trump, the Florida governor’s campaign manager argued Wednesday night.
NBC’s Kristen Welker pressed campaign manager James Uthmeier on whether DeSantis should be more direct in criticizing the GOP front-runner, noting that he “chose his words very carefully” on the debate stage.
“No, look, he has taken the gloves off,” Uthmeier replied. “He’s pointed out the failures of the former president.”
He listed out a series of issues DeSantis said Trump “flipped and flopped on” — including his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and adding trillions more to the national deficit. Uthmeier added that the governor also highlighted “policy differences” between him and the former president without getting into “personal attacks.”
The campaign manager’s remarks come after former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took aim at DeSantis during the fourth GOP primary debate for dodging a question about Trump. When asked whether the former president is “mentally fit” to be president, the governor responded that “Father Time is undefeated” and noted Trump’s age.
Christie accused DeSantis of deflecting the question, saying he was “afraid to answer.”
When Welker pressed Uthmeier on DeSantis’s missed a chance to attack Trump “more aggressively,” he argued that the Sunshine State governor was clear in his answer.
“Some might just not have liked the answer he gave,” Uthmeier told Welker. “Does Donald Trump have cognitive function? Yes, he does. But I think the governor was very clear that the country needs a leader who’s not going up into the 80s, who’s not lost a step.”
“And one thing is clear, Donald Trump is not the, you know, not the same guy he was four or six years ago. He has definitely lost a step,” he continued. “The governor said we need a leader who will spit nails, who will fight our enemies and who will get the job done, a new American leader, a younger person, and he’s proven that he can do what needs to be done.”
Wednesday’s GOP debate in Tuscaloosa, Ala., was hosted by NewsNation. Nexstar Media Group, the owner of NewsNation, purchased The Hill in 2021.