DeSantis cleans up earlier Ukraine comments, calls Putin a ‘war criminal’
But during an interview with Morgan that aired this week, DeSantis called Putin “a gas station with a bunch of nukes,” repeating a similar phrase he used in early March to describe the Russian leader. Both lines echoed a 2014 quip by the then senator. John McCain (R-Arizona) in which he said, “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country.”
“I think [Putin’s] hostile to the United States, but I think what we’ve seen is that he doesn’t have the conventional ability to achieve his ambitions,” DeSantis said, according to Fox News. “And so it’s basically a gas station with a bunch of nuclear weapons and one of the things we could do better is use our own energy resources in the United States”
DeSantis, who is expected to enter the 2024 presidential race after the Florida legislative sessions in May, has faced mounting attacks from Donald Trump and other Republicans for his comments on Ukraine and his perceived disloyalty to the former president, who said in November he was running for president.
Trump supporters have also targeted DeSantis after the governor said he would not intervene in Trump’s likely indictment in relation to silent money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. Under Florida law, DeSantis could intervene in any extradition attempt if challenged.
“I have real issues that I have to deal with here in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said earlier this week at a press conference. “We don’t get involved in any way.”
His comments to Morgan, however, represent something of a pivot for DeSantis, who until this week has only lightly pushed back against Trump’s repeated criticism on Truth Social and elsewhere.
In part of Morgan’s interview, DeSantis said “you can call me whatever you want, as long as you also call me a winner” in response to Trump calling Florida Governor “Ron DeSanctimonious”.