Officially, Ron DeSantis reached out to Japanese business leaders during a visit to Florida to strengthen their ties. But part of his Tokyo roundtable speech, part of which was soon edited and posted online on the Republican governor's Rumble page, sounded like a message for his audience back home.
“People are voting with their feet very consistently,” the Florida governor said, noting that many Americans are moving to his state while some Democratic-controlled jurisdictions are seeing population declines. He wasn't just talking about Florida, he was scathing about Chicago.
"Chicago was one of the great cities in America. It had a lot of problems and a great need to move in a different direction," DeSantis said. He pointed to the liberal mayoral candidate's victory this month, arguing that the city chose someone who " It will continue to accelerate in the same wrong direction."
It was a familiar topic of conversation for those close to DeSantis as he approached the Republican presidential race against Donald Trump and others, and it heightened the domestic political implications of his international trip this week. Japan was DeSantis' first stop on an "international trade mission" to Florida that gave the governor a chance to boost his foreign policy profile ahead of the presidential race.
Even if his office views travel as a limited state affair, questions about his political future were inevitable.
“Governor, the polls show that you support Trump. Is there any idea about that?" asked a journalist from Tokyo.
“I'm not a candidate, so we'll see when that changes,” DeSantis said in frustration, his eyes wide at the meme. The clip was panned by critics and received millions of views online, absorbing their comments on international relations.
Trump's team criticized him after aide Jason Miller shared the GIF, with the former president issuing his latest statement condemning DeSantis' efforts to "clean up the stain on his failed campaign."
A spokeswoman for the governor's office said political investigations are not within its purview and officials from DeSantis's political party did not respond to requests for comment.
Despite the notion that "politics stops at the water's edge," that American leaders abroad must be united, the governor fired at his usual political targets in the US, from the liberal city to the President Biden.
“Just walking around Tokyo, I don't think I've seen trash anywhere,” DeSantis said after a visit to Japan, according to The Wall Street Journal. In Florida, he says. "We're doing well, but there are other states, other cities in other parts of the United States that could learn a thing or two."
According to Robert Lieber, emeritus professor of government and international affairs at Georgetown, the dissemination of these guidelines for international travel has historically been frowned upon. "But now we've entered a new game," he said, "and a lot of political etiquette has been lost."
He added that foreign policy, like all American politics, has become more polarized.
Previous presidential candidates and their parties have used foreign travel to outbid foreign policy rivals, including the then-president.
In 2015, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called President Barack Obama an ineffective negotiator during a visit to the UK. In 2012, Vice President Joe Biden rebuked Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) when his aides criticized the Obama administration's actions toward Britain and spoke on condition of anonymity because the Romney campaign "allows foreign media to cover the president." Don't criticize." Like The Telegraph. I did this
DeSantis also criticized Biden this week, joining Japan's Fox News host Sean Hannity in criticizing China. He made his trip to Asia at a time when many politicians are focusing on China as the biggest threat to the United States, and many contenders for victory in 2024 are vying to take the toughest stance against Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“They are flexing their muscles, and I think the fact that Biden is so vulnerable on the world stage encourages them to do more,” DeSantis told Hannity, noting how he used the trip to drive the message home:
Erin Perrin, director of communications for the DeSantis Never Back Down supercomputer, also contrasted with the president, saying DeSantis "continues to show exceptional and strong leadership, even on the world stage," while Biden has "undermined America by destroying the shameful and the shameful." "A deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan as China invites Russia to aggression."
The White House declined to comment on Perrin's assessment.
DeSantis is expected to announce his presidential bid shortly after the Florida legislature ends in May. The poll shows he will enter the race as the closest challenger to Trump, who has already focused his attacks on the Florida governor.
But DeSantis has said little publicly about his thoughts on 2024, and Trump has strengthened his position at the top of the polls in recent weeks despite facing even greater legal risk.
DeSantis was followed by South Korea, followed by Israel and Great Britain.
DeSantis' foreign policy statements, in which he has less experience than many other presidential candidates, have been controversial. That year, he came under fire from both Democrats and Republicans after describing Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a "territorial dispute" that was not important to American interests.
He has since made it clear that his vision of possible Chinese aggression is very different from Russia's.
“I think they are much more powerful than [President Vladimir] Putin and Russia, and they really do pose the biggest threat to our leadership since the Soviet Union,” DeSantis said in an interview. Conservative commentator Piers Morgan in March.