President Trump is privately accusing top ally and Florida GOP gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis of publicly betraying him after he broke with him over the Hurricane Maria death toll in Puerto Rico, Politico reported Tuesday.
Citing “people familiar with the president’s thinking,” Politico reported that Trump views DeSantis as “politically indebted to him” after campaigning with him in Florida and repeatedly praising him on Twitter.
DeSantis joined Democratic and Republican lawmakers in taking a stand against Trump after the president disputed studies on the death toll in Puerto Rico and accused Democrats of falsely inflating the numbers.
“Ron DeSantis is committed to standing with the Puerto Rican community, especially after such a tragic loss of life,” DeSantis’ campaign said in a statement. “He doesn’t believe any loss of life has been inflated.”
“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,” Trump tweeted at the time. “When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000.”
“This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico,” he added. “If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list.”
The Hill added:
Trump has reportedly privately lashed out about DeSantis’ disloyalty since the comments, with one Politico source describing the situation as a “divorce.”
DeSantis’ campaign issued a statement to Politico that did not address whether his comments created tension between him and the president.
“Ron DeSantis knows first-hand that President Trump honored all requests for Hurricane Maria relief and it is sad, though predictable, that Democrats are wrongly politicizing this issue and that the media is constantly trying to drive a wedge between the president and members of his own party,” the campaign said. “As governor, Ron will continue to work with the president through his reelection and second term to accomplish great things for Florida.”
A White House spokesman did not return Politico’s request for comment.