NBC Host Kristen Welker attempted to pressure Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis into condemning former President Donald Trump’s use of “vermin,” asking the governor multiple times if he was “comfortable” with that word.
DeSantis appeared on NBC News’ “Meet The Press” discussing his run for 2024 and where he stands on certain policies. During the interview, DeSantis brought up Trump, which led Welker to question him about a term the former president previously used.
Welker repeatedly asked the presidential candidate if he would condemn Trump, however, DeSantis avoided the topic attempting to finish an answer to a previous question she had asked. (RELATED: ‘It’s A Great Idea’: DeSantis Suggests Relocating Dept Of Agriculture To Another State)
“But let me ask you about my original question, the use of the word vermin. Are you comfortable with that term governor?” Welker questioned. “But are you comfortable with that term governor?”
“Let me just say on the DOJ – well, first of all, I’m responsible for what I say and I say things differently. But on the DOJ,” DeSantis responded.
However, Welker quickly interrupted asking, “But are you comfortable with that term? Just on my question though, governor.”
“Excuse me,” DeSantis pushed back. “What I’m not comfortable with is FBI agents going after parents going to school board meetings. I’m not comfortable with the DOJ, FBI, working with tech companies to censor dissent. I’m not comfortable with how this has been — power has been exercised.”
“I don’t use the same rhetoric that he does. I conduct myself in a different way. I think I conduct myself in a way that’s more effective as a leader…And I think some of the reasons why he struggled electorally is because it’s not even about the policy. It’s about some of these other things.”
Welker once again asked DeSantis if he would “condemn the use of the word vermin,” pushing the Florida governor to explain that while he doesn’t “use the term,” he refuses to “play the media’s games.”
“I don’t use the term, but what I don’t do is play the media’s games where I’m asked to referee other people. He’s responsible for his words. He’s responsible for his conduct. I’m responsible for mine…I am focused on the folks, I am focused on what they want to see done for this country in a positive direction. I’m the vessel, but ultimately it’s not about me,” DeSantis stated.
During a speech over Veteran’s Day weekend, the former president promised to “root out” his political opponents, stating that they “lived like vermin,” according to ABC News. Many political figures and outlets later came forward alleging that the statement was similar to rhetoric used by dictators like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. (RELATED: ‘The Right Thing To Do’: DeSantis Rallies After Visiting Every County In Key Early State)
Fellow Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy was also asked to condemn the statement, however, he also pushed back against the narrative stating it was a “classic mainstream media move.”
“This is a classic mainstream media move,” Ramaswamy stated during a CNN interview. “Pick some individual phrase of Donald Trump, focus on literally that word without actually interrogating the substance of what’s at issue.”