DeSantis slams Crist as a ‘worn-out, old donkey’ in Florida gubernatorial debate
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), declining to rule out a 2024 presidential bid, slammed his Democratic rival, former Rep. Charlie Crist (Fla.), as a “worn-out, old donkey” in a Monday night debate just weeks before Election Day.
Pressed by Crist on whether he would commit to serving out a “full, four-year term” in the governor’s mansion if he’s reelected in November, DeSantis demurred, saying his current focus is only on defeating Crist next month.
“I just want to make things very, very clear,” DeSantis said. “The only worn-out, old donkey I’m looking to put out to pasture is Charlie Crist.”
The quip appeared to be a swipe, not only at Crist, but at President Biden, whom DeSantis has criticized relentlessly throughout his reelection bid. It was also one of several instances during the debate in which DeSantis refused to directly address rumors about his future political ambitions.
DeSantis has seen his political profile swell in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, when he endeared himself to conservatives by routinely bucking the advice of — and antagonizing — federal public health officials.
Since then, he’s continued to insert himself into some of the nation’s hottest political moments.
Just last month, for example, DeSantis set off a media firestorm when his administration used taxpayer money to fly dozens of migrants from Texas to the Massachusetts resort town of Martha’s Vineyard to protest the Biden administration’s handling of border security.
Stunts like that have only fueled speculation that he’s moving toward a run for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination, and polling suggests that he is an early favorite for the nod, especially if former President Trump declines to mount another White House bid.
Still, that speculation has opened DeSantis up to criticism from Crist, who repeatedly zinged DeSantis on Monday as a political opportunist who’s more interested in his own political ambitions than his job as governor.
“He won’t even tell you if he’ll serve four years if reelected,” Crist said, addressing Florida voters on Monday. “You deserve better than that. Florida deserves better than that.”