Ron DeSantis on Monday slammed former President Trump for taking Iowa “for granted,” while brushing off Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)’s endorsement of the former president shortly ahead of the Hawkeye State’s caucuses.
DeSantis, in an interview with NewsNation’s “NewsNation Live with Marni Hughes,” contrasted his work on the campaign trail in Iowa with what he claims is Trump’s lack of participation in the GOP primary race.
“And I think Trump has kind of taken Iowa for granted. He’s not done the questions. He’s not participated in debates,” DeSantis said on Monday. “He’s not gone to … certainly hasn’t done all 99 counties. And yeah, he’s he’s got a big name because he’s been president. But then looking forward, there’s a lot of fluidity here. And I think we’ve put ourselves in a good position to capture that going forward.”
Trump has declined to attend any of the debates among GOP primary presidential candidates, citing his wide lead in the polls.
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While DeSantis appears optimistic about his chances in Iowa, polling shows the Florida governor has struggled to make any significant dent in the former president’s lead. According to the polling index by The Hill and Decision Desk HQ, Trump has a 34.7-point lead over his closest challenger in Iowa, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. DeSantis is close behind Haley, garnering nearly 16 percent of the likely GOP caucus vote in Iowa.
Rubio on Sunday snubbed DeSantis by throwing his support behind Trump. Rubio’s endorsement meant both Florida senators chose the former president over their home state’s governor.
DeSantis dismissed the endorsement on Monday, pointing to the dozens of other endorsements he has received from his state’s lawmakers.
“Well, it’s interesting. So you know, I’m a governor. So I have like 90 members of our state Legislature, between [the] House and Senate that have endorsed me, because they’ve worked with me, and they’ve seen the great results,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis noted that while he is not the candidate that is “preferred by Washington politicians,” he believes voters do not want somebody who has the backing of “all these Washington politicians.”
“I think they look at Washington, D.C., and they say, you know, these Republicans talk a big game, but they don’t ever deliver,” DeSantis said, adding later he believes politicians have “gravitated” toward Trump because he has become “the embodiment of the DC Republican class.”
DeSantis’s comments came hours ahead of the slated start of the Iowa caucus meetings, expected to begin at 8 p.m. EST on Monday. The caucuses, in effect, kick off the GOP primary voting season and will mark the first test for Trump’s strength within the Republican Party and if Haley and DeSantis have enough momentum ahead of next week’s New Hampshire primary.