From Ethanol to Yucca Mountain, Trump punches DeSantis on local issues
Trump has targeted DeSantis' record in Congress in his latest campaign strategy.
Former President Donald Trump is attacking Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on local issues, seemingly as part of a campaign strategy to beat his top challenger for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
"If you don’t mind nuclear waste dumped in your backyard, I suggest you vote for Ron DeSanctimonious," Trump said Saturday at a Las Vegas rally, referring to the Florida governor by a derogatory nickname that he's used for months.
While in the House, DeSantis voted in 2018 for a bill that would have authorized nuclear waste to be stored at Yucca Mountain, which is about 80 miles outside of Las Vegas, Bloomberg reported. A supermajority of Nevadans in polls oppose the project.
During his visit Friday to Iowa, Trump criticized DeSantis' votes during his time in Congress again.
DeSantis "totally despises" ethanol, Trump said, according to Politico.
"Don’t forget, he was a congressman, and he was voting against it and fighting for years to kill every single job supported by this very important industry," Trump said during a campaign speech in Council Bluffs, Iowa. "Ending the Renewable Fuel Standard was one of his top priorities as a member of Congress. He wanted to end it. And if he had his way, the entire economy of Iowa would absolutely collapse."
While he was in Congress in 2015, DeSantis tried to eliminate the Clean Air Act's Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires a minimum amount of renewable fuel to be blended into fuel every year.
DeSantis’ press secretary Bryan Griffin said Trump's comments in Iowa are not the first time and likely wouldn't be the last that he would be "distorting" the governor's record. Griffin also said that DeSantis shares the values of Iowans and, "As president, Ron DeSantis will be a champion for farmers and use every tool available to open new markets."
In South Carolina earlier this month, Trump said: "After years of Washington betrayals of South Carolina workers, I ended the disaster known as NAFTA – the worst trade deal ever made, not even believable – and replaced it with the USMCA – the best trade deal ever made for our country."
The North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, was a trade deal between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico that eliminated most tariffs on goods traded between the three nations. Trump said it undermined U.S. jobs and he replaced it with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, which the International Trade Administration says resulted in "freer markets, fairer trade, and robust economic growth."
Trump then said he helped farmers by placing tariffs on China.
"People say that Ron DeSanctimonious is doing fine with farmers, he's not. He's actually getting absolutely destroyed," Trump also said at the South Carolina rally. "DeSanctus opposed my China tariffs and he opposed helping our farmers."
At the Oakland County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner late last month in Michigan, where the "Big Three" U.S. automobile manufacturers are based, Trump targeted DeSantis' track record with the automobile industry.
Trump said when he came into office, the Trans-Pacific Partnership was "set to slaughter U.S automakers" before he pulled out of the trade agreement.
"Joe Biden and Ron DeSanctimonious were both all in favor of [the Trans-Pacific Partnership] but we stopped it cold," he said.
DeSantis had voted to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal while he was in Congress.
Trump's state-specific attacks on DeSantis come in addition to his more generalized criticism, such as accusing DeSantis of trying to cut Social Security and raise the minimum retirement age.
DeSantis, meanwhile, is lagging behind Trump in 2024 presidential primary polls.
While Trump, on average, has always been ahead of DeSantis, his advantage has grown over the past several months. Now, Trump's average in hypothetical 2024 primary polls is 52.2% while DeSantis' average is 23.2%, according to FiveThirtyEight.