WASHINGTON — Republican senators on Tuesday slammed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for saying that defending Ukraine against Russian aggression is not a “vital” U.S. interest.
“I totally disagree with his comments,” said Sen., the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. said Roger Wicker, R-Miss.
About half a dozen of Wicker’s GOP colleagues expressed varying degrees of opposition to DeSantis’ comments on Fox News Monday night.
The high-profile comments by DeSantis, a 2024 presidential hopeful seen by many GOP elites as the main replacement for former President Donald Trump, are intensifying a conflict within the party between conservation hawks who want to preserve the post-World War II order. A right-wing populist faction that wants to withdraw from global affairs.
RN.D [Russian President] I would certainly hate to send a signal to other allies around the world that we don’t care about Vladimir Putin, you’re on your own. Because it would lead to nuclear proliferation, which we have avoided for decades. So no, I think it’s in our interest.
Cramer, who praised DeSantis, said he was “not too surprised” by the comments because DeSantis leads a complicated movement with the party base.
“We have a restless base, and if he’s running for president, he needs to speak to that base a little bit,” Kramer said. “That’s not to say it’s not his position, but I think he is. The president of the United States and he has that authority, and then he explained the details well enough to make a decision. But hopefully the position will evolve little by little.”
DeSantis’s view that Russia’s war in Ukraine is a “territorial dispute” between the two sides, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Rejected.
“This is not a territorial dispute — it would be a territorial dispute if the United States decided to invade Canada or take over the Bahamas,” Rubio told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “Just because someone claims something doesn’t mean it belongs to them. It is an invasion.”
Rubio added: “I don’t know what he’s trying to do or what the goal is. Obviously, he doesn’t deal with foreign policy every day as governor.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., said DeSantis’ comments reflect a “misunderstanding of the context.”
“This is not a territorial conflict. It’s a war of aggression,” he said, adding that DeSantis “is a great governor, but in my opinion, if you don’t get Ukraine right, it’s an opportunity to stop Putin before it turns into a big war. – and China is taking notice.
RS.D “As you know there are various opinions within the membership of our party.”
Many Republicans have said that protecting Ukraine is ultimately about protecting the United States and its allies in Europe.
“They are a vital interest,” Sen. said Rep. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala. “We are basically defending NATO and Europe.” But he said there is a valid debate about how far the U.S. can go in helping Ukraine. “We’re broke,” he said. “We have to have a better plan.”
Sen. John F. Kennedy, R-La., said: “I don’t want America to be the policeman of the world, but I don’t want Vladimir Putin or [Chinese President] Xi Jinping should also be the world’s policeman. I have never seen our aid to Ukraine as charity. I saw it as self-preservation.
Other Republicans said the issue would spark a primary debate.
“I think that before any of the individuals who are interested in serving as the next president of the United States make up their mind on this particular issue, they should get a full briefing,” Sen. Mike Rounds, RSD, told reporters.
“So we’ll see how it moves. But we’re seeing a lot of people in the 2024 race and we’ll find out whether others feel the same way or not.