DES MOINES, Iowa — Four months after stumbling on a Tucker-Carlson questionnaire about Ukraine and forcing a quick backtrack, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) addressed Friday at the 2023 Family Leadership Summit same subject from the same inquisitor seven minutes with no reply.
DeSantis spoke about his time in Iraq as a Navy attorney, the Mexican border and how many migrants cross illegally, how fentanyl dealers would end up “stone cold dead” if he were in office, and how humiliating it is that the United States Ammunition is running out, the real threat was China, and in Florida the Chinese Communist Party has banned land purchases.
“I think the goal should be a sustainable peace in Europe. Okay, we don’t want war to happen. Many people were killed and displaced. It’s a terrible thing. But you have to set out where you want to go to get there. I fear at the moment that this is basically an open-ended conflict. This will be a perennial swamp. There’s going to be a lot of people who’re going to die, and not much is going to change the facts on the ground,” he said in one sentence during a candidate forum for the 2024 Republican presidential nominations.
“It’s not just peaches and cream out there,” he added elsewhere. “I wish the DC elites would care about our border as much as they care about the Ukraine-Russia border,” he said, then turned to China. “It may happen that our children or grandchildren memorize 37 different pronouns in Mandarin.”
In March, DeSantis filled out a questionnaire that Carlson sent to all Republican presidential candidates. DeSantis responded by calling the invasion a “territorial dispute” — which he retracted the following week, saying he should have been clearer that Russia had no right to do what it did.
Carlson, who along with previous candidates at the Family Leader Summit had expressed his clear opposition to US support for Ukraine, first asked DeSantis why he had made the switch in the first place and then pressed further on what he would do should he win the presidency.
“The goal should be to bring it to a conclusion,” DeSantis said of the Russian invasion, but gave no details on how it would play out, other than that European nations would have to carry more of the burden. “We cannot have American troops in Ukraine. This is a complete false start.”
The Republican Party has been divided over America’s approach to Russia in recent years, after former President Donald Trump began siding with Putin over America’s traditional allies in Western Europe. When Putin first invaded in early 2022, Trump called him a “genius” for doing so, and that pro-Putin sentiment remains ingrained in a significant percentage of the Republican electoral base.
Earlier Friday, when former Vice President Mike Pence expressed his strong support for Ukraine’s self-defense against Russia, the lifelong evangelical Christian was twice booed by evangelical Christian audiences.