The Trump campaign and MAGA world on Saturday blasted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for remarks appearing to label some of the former president’s supporters “listless vessels.”
“DeSantis goes full-blown Hillary and call[s] MAGA supporters ‘Listless Vessels,’” Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung wrote on X, referring to a DeSantis interview with The Florida Standard in which the GOP presidential candidate stated that a strong conservative movement needed to be based on principles.
“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.”
A Trump-aligned super PAC also blasted DeSantis’ statement.
“To Hillary Clinton, Trump supporters are ‘deplorables.’ To Ron DeSantis, they are ‘listless vessels.’ The truth is, Trump supporters are patriots,” MAGA, Inc. spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said in a statement. “DeSantis must immediately apologize for his disgraceful insult.”
“Looks like Ron DeSanctimonious just had his ‘Basket of Deplorables’ moment,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller.
The statements’ reference to Clinton alludes to an episode during the 2016 election when the former Democratic nominee called supporters of Trump “deplorables” that were motivated by “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic” feelings. After blowback from Trump, she later walked back those comments, saying that she was referring to his campaign rhetoric and not his supporters.
In a response posted to X, DeSantis campaign press secretary Bryan Griffin said the governor’s comment was aimed at Trump and his congressional allies.
“The dishonest media refuses to report the facts — Donald Trump and some congressional endorsers are “listless vessels.” Why? Because Trump and DC insiders feel he is entitled to your vote,” Griffin wrote.
DeSantis, who has shaken up his campaign in an attempt to make up ground against Trump, has generally tried to ride a fine line between opposing the former president and not alienating his supporters, given their prominence in the Republican primary electorate.
Before making the “listless vessels” comment during the interview, DeSantis pushed back on the tendency of Trump and his allies to label conservatives who cross his line as RINOs, or Republicans in name only. The governor said some of Trump’s biggest allies have “incredibly liberal left-wing records.”
The comments point to Trump’s tendency of using Truth Social, a platform he owns, to attack his adversaries. Trump was banned from X, the platform previously known as Twitter, in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and he has since made Truth his new digital home.
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