Navy vet DeSantis says draft-dodging Trump’s insults pale in comparison to military sacrifices
Ron DeSantis appeared to compare his own military service to Donald Trump’s draft-dodging when asked how he’d cope with insults hurled by the former president.
Speaking to Fox News on Wednesday night, the Florida governor said such jibes would pale in comparison to the hardships experienced by service personnel — including the lawmaker himself once serving as a Navy lawyer.
Trump, by comparison, dodged being drafted into the Vietnam War by claiming he suffered from bone spurs, with DeSantis seemingly keen to highlight the ex-president’s much-mocked excuse.
He told Fox he was unconcerned about potential insults on the campaign trail, saying: ‘If the sacrifice I have to make is people are going to call me names, that pales into comparison with what so many people have done for me throughout history so that I could live in a free country.’
Ron DeSantis appeared on Fox News on Wednesday night and seemed to take a dig at Donald Trump’s draft-dodging.
DeSantis (left) served in the Navy as a lawyer from 2004-10: Trump dodged the draft, securing a letter saying he had bone spurs
DeSantis was responding to a question about how he’d respond to cruel nicknames from unnamed rivals, with Donald Trump already branding him ‘Meatball Ron’ and ‘Ron DeSanctimonious.’
The Florida governor was in his second year at Harvard Law School when he enlisted in the Navy, in 2004.
After graduating, he was sent to Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida, as a prosecutor, before being sent to Guantanamo shortly thereafter.
He spent at least six months in the Cuban base, between March 2006 and January 2007, and his main duty was as a prosecutor.
DeSantis then deployed to Iraq, where he acted as an advisor to a US Navy SEAL commander working in the areas around Fallujah and Ramadi.
He left the Navy in 2010, having received at least 10 awards and decorations for his service, and went straight into politics.
Trump, meanwhile, secured four deferrals of his Vietnam War draft in 1969, before eventually getting a medical exemption, for his bone spurs.
The daughters of the Queen’s foot doctor who diagnosed Trump told The New York Times that their father, who died in 2007, diagnosed bone spurs as a ‘favor’ to his father Fred Trump.
Trump, questioned about the exemption, in 2016 said he had been given ‘a letter – a very strong letter’, which ruled him unfit for service.
Trump mocked DeSantis’s campaign launch, and issued a video referring to him as an imposter.
Trump, seeing DeSantis as his biggest rival, has not held back with his insults: he regularly terms the father-of-three ‘DeSanctimonious’, and privately calls him ‘Meatball Ron’ – an apparent dig at his appearance.
Donald Trump Jr on Wednesday called DeSantis ‘DeSaster’.
Asked on Fox about the potential nicknames and insults, DeSantis said he was not worried.
“I’ve been called everything but a child of God as it is,” he told host Trey Gowdy.
‘So that doesn’t faze me – you can call me whatever you want, just make sure you call me a winner, because that’s what we’ve done in the state of Florida and that’s exactly what we do nationally – not only in the election, but actually bringing all of these great policies to bear.
DeSantis continued: ‘There will be slings and arrows, but I’m a big boy, I can take it.
‘There’s a lot of people that have given a lot more than that so that this country can be free.
‘You can see their tombstones in places like Arlington National Cemetery.
‘So if the sacrifice I have to make is people are going to call me names, that pales into comparison with what so many people have done for me throughout history so that I could live in a free country.’
Trump on Wednesday unveiled a new attack ad, calling DeSantis an imposter
The subtle reference to Trump’s draft-dodging came as Trump unleashed an attack ad against DeSantis, calling him an imposter.
‘Why would we ever settle for Trump imposters?’ a voiceover asked, as images from a July 2018 video of DeSantis encouraging his daughter to build a wall and read about Trump were shown.
DeSantis filmed the 2018 video when he was campaigning for governor, as a sign of his loyalty to Trump.
Trump’s support is widely-regarded as having helped DeSantis win his gubernatorial election.
‘There’s only one, starting day one, who can make America great again,’ the clip concluded.
Polls show Trump well-ahead of DeSantis among Republican voters, but pundits have highlighted how anything can happen between now and next July.
That is when the Republican nominee will be named at the party’s annual convention in Milwaukee.
DeSantis’s campaign got off to the worst of starts on Wednesday as what was promoted as a groundbreaking launch – on Twitter – turned into a farce.
The servers used by Twitter were unable to cope with the traffic, and the audio regularly cut out.
For 20 minutes the feed was silent, as Elon Musk and his team worked to solve the problem.
The moderator, David Sacks, said that there were so many people listening it had ‘melted the internet’, but social media users were quick to point out that far larger live-streamed events had been held without problems.
DeSantis eventually began speaking around 40 minutes after the scheduled time, reading from a script and declaring that ‘American decline is not inevitable – it is a choice’.
DeSantis promised to ‘restore sanity to our nation – fiscal and economic sanity’, and said he would ’embrace energy independence’.
The Florida governor repeated his much-loved attacks on the ‘woke mind virus’, and said he would prioritize protecting America’s borders and law and order.
‘Governing is not entertainment: it is not about building a brand or virtual signalling,’ he declared, promising that he will be ‘an energetic executive that will take on the important issues.’