WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump’s campaign is piling on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over a phrase he used to apparently describe some of Trump‘s supporters: “Listless vessels.”
“Looks like Ron DeSanctimonious just had his ‘Basket of Deplorables’ moment,” said Trump senior adviser Jason Miller, referring to a comment that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton made about Trump backers during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The DeSantis campaign said the comment referred not to voters, but to Trump and his supporters in Congress.
“Donald Trump and some congressional endorsers are ‘listless vessels.’ Why? Because Trump and DC insiders feel he is entitled to your vote,” said DeSantis spokesman Bryan Griffin.
Trump himself has yet to respond to DeSantis’ comment, but his spokesperson, Steven Cheung, also said “DeSantis goes full-blown Hillary,” on X, the social media platform known as Twitter.
DeSantis made the comment in an interview with The Florida Standard, in which he warned that the Republican Party should not continue to follow Trump.
“A movement can’t be about the personality of one individual,” DeSantis said. “If all we are is listless vessels that’s just supposed to follow, you know, whatever happens to come down the pike on Truth Social every morning, that’s not going to be a durable movement.”
Other Republicans also questioned DeSantis’ rhetoric.
U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., said on Fox News that “I don’t know why anyone running for president would put down half of the electorate and identify them and call them listless vessels because they support the former president.”
Citing DeSantis’ campaign struggles, Mace said: “Why he would do that while numbers are taken is really beyond me.”
The flap came just days before the first Republican debate on Wednesday, though Trump has indicated he will not attend that encounter in Milwaukee.
Griffin, the DeSantis spokesman, said the Florida governor “believes your trust should be earned and has the vision, plan, and record to beat Joe Biden and reverse the decline of our country. That’s why Ron DeSantis will be showing up on Wednesday night to debate, and Donald Trump will not.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump’s team knocks DeSantis after he calls allies ‘listless vessels’