Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) accused former President Trump of deploying “Democrat attacks” against him over his past support for changes to entitlement programs as the governor considers joining Trump in the 2024 primary.
“Those are Democrat attacks, I don’t think anyone really buys that,” DeSantis said Friday in an interview with Newsmax. “Donald Trump himself wrote a book where he was talking about the need to increase the age of eligibility for Social Security to 70.”
Trump’s campaign has dinged DeSantis for supporting a GOP budget proposal while he was in Congress that would have raised the retirement age to 70 to receive Social Security benefits. As the debate over the future of entitlement programs including Social Security and Medicare has reignited with the fight over the debt ceiling in Washington, Trump has said that Republicans should not touch the programs.
A federal report this year showed the trust funds that back Social Security will be depleted by 2034, implementing an automatic reduction in the level of benefits that are paid out.
DeSantis said in the interview that Republicans needed to be able to discuss changes to the programs, but he blasted Trump for resorting to “Democrat tactics.”
“Clearly, nobody has ever proposed to do anything to affect the current senior citizens,” he said.
A pro-DeSantis super PAC last month launched a TV ad defending him on Social Security and going after Trump for his attacks. The interview from DeSantis echoed some of the same framing from the ad.
“Donald Trump is being attacked by a Democrat prosecutor in New York,” the narrator in the ad released last month said. “So why is he spending millions attacking the Republican governor of Florida? Trump’s stealing pages from the Biden-Pelosi playbook.”
DeSantis also said in the interview that he has not spoken to Trump since his campaign for reelection in Florida last year.
The governor, who won that campaign easily, consistently polls in second place of a hypothetical 2024 GOP primary field — behind only Trump.
DeSantis has not yet announced a White House bid; Trump announced his in November.