Once a favorite of the defensive hawks, Ron DeSantis is retiring

If Ron DeSantis The retired Navy officer, who first ran for a seat in the US House of Representatives in Florida in 2012, garnered the backing of one of the Republican Party’s most prominent defenders.

John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations known for his sharp elbows and combative approach to foreign policy, spoke at a fundraiser in Washington for the political newcomer who went on to win the seat. Impressed with DeSantis’ track record and understanding of “the dangers we face overseas,” Bolton said would come back too his re-election applications in the amount of $20,000.

Now Florida’s governor and a likely presidential contender, DeSantis has begun to move away from the hawkish rhetoric that won Bolton over a decade ago and has continued through his three terms in Congress.

The most profound proof came this weekwhen DeSantis, responding to questions from Fox News host Tucker Carlson, said protecting Ukraine was not a “vital” national interest for the US. That position puts DeSantis, who has yet to declare his candidacy, in line with former President Donald Trump at a time when the two appear to be on a collision course for the Republican nomination in 2024.

In job interviews Thursday, Bolton – himself considering an offer for President Stop another Trump term — said he was disappointed in DeSantis’ stance and said the governor is opening up to being called a “flip-flopper” by the former president.

“The problem with trying to align with Trump on any particular position is that his positions are very volatile,” Bolton said. “By moving to try to mirror what Trump is saying, you may be following him for another week. Trump tries different lines of attack; Flip-Floper seems like the right place to start.”

“I can’t say I followed every aspect of some of the things he did in Florida,” Bolton added. “But my impression, certainly on national security issues as a governor dealing with issues in this hemisphere — Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua — he was still on the right track.”

A DeSantis spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

In response to Carlson this week, DeSantis cited several “vital national interests,” including border security and the rise of China, but said “further entanglement in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them.”

Trump — who leads in most polls but is aware that the governor is his closest potential rival right now — noted that DeSantis has taken a much harder line on Ukraine in the past. In Congress, he voted for several defense legislation that provided US military and intelligence support.

“It’s a flip-flop,” Trump said told reporters during this week’s campaign in Iowa scheduled to hold the first GOP Presidential Committee. “He was very different. What I want, he wants.”

DeSantis cut the figure of a traditional Republican defensive hawk as a member of Congress from 2013 until he stepped down from his seat in 2018 during his run for governor. He took a particularly hard line in support of Israel, promoting measures to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, limiting US support to the Palestinians and allowing states to impose their own sanctions on Iran. On the latter point, DeSantis has been a vocal critic of then-President Barack Obama’s entry into a multilateral nuclear deal, which Trump later abandoned.

As a new lawmaker, DeSantis split from most of his party by voting against ordering Obama to end the war in Afghanistan. His hawkishness was demonstrated again in 2016 when he voted in favor of a resolution calling for Obama to “provide Ukraine with lethal defensive weapon systems to enhance the ability of the Ukrainian people to defend their sovereign territory from Ukraine’s unprovoked and prolonged aggression.” to defend Russian Federation.”

While DeSantis generally supported defense policy and spending bills, he at times broke with fellow GOPs over U.S. military intervention abroad, funding to maintain a Cold War-era nuclear weapon, and helping to build a nation. He found himself in the minority of Republicans who tried and failed to block a non-binding amendment expressing support for Bashar al-Assad’s removal from power in Syria in 2013. He also voted to cut funding for the B-61 nuclear bomb and reduce spending on infrastructure in Afghanistan.

Until 2017, when Trump was in office and DeSantis chaired a subcommittee on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he asked tough questions about the US mission in Afghanistan.

“Today, after more than 16 years in Afghanistan, it’s not clear that things are much better than they were when the Taliban first fell,” DeSantis said at a hearing with the special inspector general, who oversees US programs there. “Is Afghanistan on the verge of becoming a terror dream again? Are we making the same mistakes over and over again? Should we just be done with this whole godforsaken place? Or should we worry that ISIS now has a dangerous offshoot, ISIS-K, in Afghanistan that is seeking to reach and attack the US homeland. How do we do this right? Or can we?”

There have been other instances where the hawkish DeSantis pushed back or clashed with Trump’s more isolationist impulses. He called on Trump in 2017 to put “additional pressure” on Nicolás Maduro’s regime after he backed a successful House resolution condemning “political, social, economic and humanitarian crises” under the Venezuelan dictator’s oversight. Trump would do it in the years that followed Express interest when meeting Maduro.

Also in 2017 during a House Foreign Affairs Committee Hear With State Department officials, DeSantis described North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as a “young, plump, immature child.” Trump card spoiled the dictatorHolding meetings with Kim and marveling at the “beautiful” communication between them.

Taken together, DeSantis’ positions demonstrated a worldview that encouraged the projection of American strength, particularly in defense of allies against their enemies, but limited the use of that power.

Another heralded Republican hopeful, Nikki Haley — like Bolton, a former US ambassador to the United Nations — split from Trump and DeSantis this week while taunting the Florida governor for “copying” the former president’s stance on Ukraine ‘ and not as an ‘echo’ served a ‘choice’ for the voters.

“Unlike other anti-American regimes [Russia] trying to brutally and violently expand into a neighboring pro-American country,” Haley replied when asked by Carlson whether Ukraine was a vital US interest. “She also regularly threatens other American allies. America is much better off with a Ukrainian victory than a Russian victory, including avoiding a major war.”

As the most questioned As an alternative to Trump in a GOP primary where multiple vocal anti-Trump candidates could split the vote, DeSantis needs to siphon conservative votes from the former president, said a Republican strategist unaffiliated with any campaign or potential candidate. A jump into the populist right on the Ukraine issue could help.

“DeSantis recognizes that he cannot ride the moderates to victory,” said the strategist, who requested anonymity to speak candidly. “It’s a risky strategy. He will lose people because of this. The question is: does this open the door for people he needs to beat Trump?”

DeSantis’ departure from those positions amid an anticipated presidential campaign has drawn arrows not only from rivals, but from boosters as well. The Wall Street Journal editorial board – part of DeSantis friendly Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. — criticized DeSantis on Wednesday for his “startling capitulation this week to Trump’s temptation of American withdrawal.”

“Mr. DeSantis has had more aggressive tones on Russia in the past, and the press will portray these as contradictions,” the editor wrote. “This may become less of a political issue and more of a character one. What does Ron DeSantis actually think?”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

Source : news.yahoo.com

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