Trump Is Privately Furious at One of His Most Loyal Minions for Dismissing His Puerto Rico Conspiracy Theory: Report
Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis got off to a rocky start this week with the revelation that he gave a speech to a hate group last year.
But he is also drawing anger from one of the last people he needs to cross right now: President Donald Trump.
The president has told close associates in recent days that he views DeSantis — who won his Aug. 28 GOP primary thanks to Trump’s strong support — as profoundly disloyal for distancing himself from the president’s assertion that the Hurricane Maria death toll was inflated by Democrats for political purposes.
“Ron DeSantis is committed to standing with the Puerto Rican community, especially after such a tragic loss of life. He doesn’t believe any loss of life has been inflated,” the DeSantis campaign said last week after Trump tweeted that "3000 people did not die” in Puerto Rico.
DeSantis, who is running against progressive Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, is one of the most proudly pro-Trump gubernatorial candidates in America, supporting his agenda almost line for line in Congress and attacking the Mueller investigation for daring to challenge Trump. He's so smitten with the president, in fact, that he recently ran an ad depicting himself teaching his young child how to read with a Trump campaign sign. Trump's decision to endorse him over Florida agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam arguably gave him the nomination.
But despite all of this, DeSantis is not willing to commit political suicide for Trump. Florida is home to some 50,000 to 75,000 Puerto Ricans who fled the island after Hurricane MarÃa — many of whom are going to the polls this November.
The independent report pegging the hurricane death toll at 2,975 includes people who survived the storm itself, but died from lack of access to clean water, electricity, and health care in the months that followed. This toll was likely exacerbated by the Trump administration's repeated failure to respond with significant resources — and in some cases, withdraw resources they had at the ready.
Gillum had an even sharper criticism to offer of Trump in the aftermath of his remarks than DeSantis. "No death is partisan and our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico deserved better from tweeted. before, during, and after the hurricane." he