Ron DeSantis Is Two Days Away From Calling Donald Trump a Radical Leftist

Ron DeSantis may be sharpening his knives against Donald Trump, the guy he’s trying to replace as the leader of the MAGA cult. But that apparently doesn’t mean he wouldn’t do the former president and his most dedicated supporters a favor if he got into the Oval Office. Speaking on the right-wing Clay TravisBuck Sexton Show Thursday, DeSantis all but promised to pardon convicted January 6 insurrectionists if elected — and hinted that he could pardon Trump himself. “We will use the pardon power,” DeSantis said, promising to hand out pardons “at the front end” of his hypothetical administration, rather than the end. 

“We’re going to find examples where that government has been weaponized against disfavored groups,” he said, “and we will apply relief as appropriate.”

He tip-toed around the hosts’ questions about whether his executive generosity would extend to Trump, his leader-turned-rival, who has had some trouble with the law of late. But the Florida governor suggested he was open to the possibility: “I would say any example of this favored treatment based on politics, or weaponization, would be included in that review, no matter how small or how big,” DeSantis said.

The comments echo Trump’s own promise to pardon January 6 convicts — whose ranks include Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in prison for his role in the 2021 Capitol attack. They also come as DeSantis tries to steady himself after a stumbling start to his campaign by apparently refining his pitch to GOP voters: Not only will he be a smarter version of Trump, he will be more extreme than his MAGA forebear. “He’s moving to the left,” DeSantis said of Trump in a radio interview with Jack Heath Thursday. “I’ll come in and on day one we’ll be spitting nails,” he added to Glenn Beck Thursday, summing up his vision to run the federal government the way he’s operated in Florida.

This game of authoritarian one-upsmanship has been absurd and juvenile, of course: On one side, you have DeSantis putting out videos of Elon Musk using a flamethrower and walking in slow-motion; on the other, Trump turning to puerile taunts. “‘Rob,’ My Red Button is bigger, better, stronger, and is working (TRUTH!),” he posted after DeSantis launched his campaign. “Yours does not!” 

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It’s hard to believe any adults could possibly find this sort of thing appealing. But such is the appetite of the GOP: Despite the embarrassing start to his campaign, DeSantis still pulled in more than 8 million dollars in fundraising in the 24-hour period after his Twitter announcement. 

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