Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis publicly criticized his 2024 rival, former President Donald Trump, for his remarks about Hezbollah during a campaign rally in West Palm Beach, Florida. Trump had described Hezbollah, the Lebanese political party and militant organization that supports Hamas, as “very smart” and criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his role in the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.
DeSantis took issue with Trump’s comments and condemned them in a social media post. He stated that it was absurd for anyone, particularly someone running for president, to attack Israel, a close ally, and praise Hezbollah, a group associated with terrorism. DeSantis emphasized his commitment to standing with Israel and treating terrorists as enemies.
In response, the DeSantis War Room accused Trump of praising Hezbollah and labeled his remarks as “disgusting.” Twitter Community Notes added a disclaimer to this post, clarifying that Trump’s statement about Hezbollah being “very smart” was meant to suggest cunning rather than approval or admiration.
The controversy stemmed from Trump’s history of describing various leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, as “smart” in different contexts. Trump’s comments about Kim Jong Un in April were cited as an example of this pattern.
You know, I said that President Xi of China — 1.4 billion people, he controls it with an iron fist — I said he’s a very smart man. They killed me the next day. I said he was smart! What am I gonna say? But Hezbollah, they’re very smart and they have a national defense minister or somebody saying, “I hope Hezbollah doesn’t attack us from the north.” So the following morning they attacked. They might not have been doing it, but if you listen to this jerk, you would attack from the north because he said that’s our weak spot.
Terrorists have murdered at least 1,200 Israelis and 22 Americans and are holding more hostage, so it is absurd that anyone, much less someone running for President, would choose now to attack our friend and ally, Israel, much less praise Hezbollah terrorists as “very smart.”
As President, I will stand with Israel and treat terrorists like the scum that they are.