Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hit out at former President Donald Trump Monday after the 2024 Republican frontrunner suggested over the weekend that the Civil War could have been avoided through mediation.
At a rally in Newton, Iowa on Saturday, Trump said he found the conflict “fascinating,” but bemoaned its high death toll of at least 620,000 soldiers.
“So many mistakes were made. See, there was something I think could have been negotiated, to be honest with you,” the 77-year-old said. “I think you could’ve negotiated that. All the people died, so many people died.”
“I don’t even know what he’s talking about,” DeSantis told reporters Monday, according to ABC News correspondent Rachel Scott.
“Lincoln did what he had to do,” DeSantis added. “He ended up ushering in the abolition of slavery and he saved the Union.
“Relitigating that doesn’t make much sense to me.”
In late December, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley triggered controversy when she did not say slavery was a main cause of the Civil War in response to a question at a New Hampshire town hall.
When Haley’s interrogator pointed out the omission, the candidate shot back, “What do you want me to say about slavery?” before moving on to another topic.
Haley later clarified that “of course” the Civil War was about slavery and reflected that she should have given a different answer.
Her rivals, including DeSantis, pummeled her for the gaffe.
“The minute that she faces any kind of scrutiny, she tends to cave,” DeSantis chided at the time. “The Republican Party was founded to put a stop to the growth of slavery in this country. And the abolition of slavery was — and to this day, remains — the party’s top achievement.”
Trump’s campaign was quick to bash DeSantis Monday in response to the Florida governor’s broadside.
“Ron DeSantis just proved how unprepared and weak he would be as president, which is why he’s polling in distant third place,” spokesperson Steven Cheung told The Post without elaborating.
The Sunshine State Republican also indicated he plans to remain in the 2024 GOP contest for the long haul, despite rumors of him dropping out if he has a lackluster showing in Iowa.
DeSantis’ team has insisted that those rumors were planted by Trump allies.
“That’s a lie, totally fabricated,” DeSantis said Monday. “Who was saying that? Nobody’s saying that. We already have the plans. We’ve already committed to a debate in New Hampshire, at least one televised town hall in New Hampshire.”
Iowa is holding its leadoff caucus on Jan. 15.
Trump is currently the odds-on favorite to win the nomination, with big polling leads both nationally and in the early states, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average.