DeSantis dodges on whether he’d serve out full time as governor but zings Biden and Crist as ‘worn-out old donkey’ in the process

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Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, and his Democratic opponent Charlie Crist take to the stage for their only scheduled debate in Fort Pierce, Florida, Monday, October 24, 2022.
Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, and his Democratic opponent Charlie Crist take to the stage for their only scheduled debate in Fort Pierce, Florida, Monday, October 24, 2022.

  • DeSantis dodged a question about whether he’d serve out all four years as governor. 
  • “The only worn-out old donkey I want to put out to pasture is Charlie Crist,” DeSantis said. 
  • DeSantis was implying both Biden and Crist are old. 

FORT PIERCE, Florida — Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is making age an issue in his bid for reelection.

DeSantis during the lone gubernatorial debate on Monday dodged a question from his Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist, over whether he would seek the White House in 2024. But in the process, DeSantis criticized the age of Crist, a former Democratic congressman, and Republican governor, as well as President Joe Biden. 

“I know Charlie wants to talk about 2024 and Joe Biden, but let me be clear: The only worn-out old donkey I want to put out to pasture is Charlie Crist,” DeSantis, 44, said of the 79-year-old president and Crist, who is 66. 

Florida has the second-highest percentage of seniors living in the state, behind Maine. More than 1 in 5 Floridians are over the age of 65.

DeSantis’ comment comes after Crist accused DeSantis of wanting to run for president in 2024. The question is one of the most gossiped-about stories in politics, including whether DeSantis would challenge former President Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination for president. 

Trump would be 78 if he were to become president again in 2024 — the same age Biden was when he became president. 

However, the implication that DeSantis was talking about Democrats was clear because donkeys are the Democrats’ mascot.

Should he run for the GOP nomination and win, then DeSantis, a Gen X-er who is the youngest governor in the US, could be up against Biden, the oldest president in history.

DeSantis hasn’t said one way or another whether he has the White House in his sights, but is up for reelection in Florida on November 8. 

On the campaign trail, DeSantis rarely says Crist’s name. Crist is the underdog in the race, as Florida Republicans have out-registered Democrats by 270,000 people.

When the two faced off on Monday DeSantis repeatedly tied Crist to Biden, including on energy policy, saying that the former congressman voted in favor of Biden’s policies. 

“I understand you think you’re going to run against him,” Crist said during the debate, hosted at the Fort Pierce Theatre by WPEC-TV, the local CBS affiliate. “I could see how you would get confused.” He then asked the governor whether he would commit to serving out all four years as governor. 

DeSantis paused and then ask the moderator whether it was his time to speak before he criticized Crist’s age. 

Later in the debate, the debate moderator, Liz Quirantes, reminded the candidates that they agreed they would not ask each other questions. 

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