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Trump steps up his attacks on Ron DeSantis as he prepares for the 2024 race


The former president has criticized the Florida governor by calling him a "Republican in name only" and has raised questions about his past. DeSantis has not responded to the attacks although he has thrown hints at Trump.

By Henry J. Gomez -

NBC News

Former President Donald Trump is targeting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with a new and urgent hostility, rushing to turn the Republican base against his potential rival in the 2024 race.

Trump's clumsy attempt to nickname Ron DeSantis: "Ron DeSanctimonious" is already circulating. 

Public insults are now

becoming more frequent on Trump's Truth Social website,

branding DeSantis with terms that could scare off GOP voters.

“RINO GLOBALISTA”, Trump assured a week ago, using the pejorative acronym of “Republican in name only” or RINO for its acronym in English.

On Tuesday, he wrote twice to call attention to a 2021 post by a site called The Hill Reporter, which allegedly featured a photo of DeSantis with several young women during his brief tenure as a high school teacher more than 20 years ago.

[“A Slap in the Face”: Afro-Latino Scholars Criticize DeSantis for Dismantling Advanced African American Studies]

Trump's posts questioned, without evidence, whether the Florida governor was inappropriate with his students. 

NBC News, sister network of Noticias Telemundo, has not confirmed the authenticity of the image.

DeSantis has not commented on it either.

Trump, whose 2018 endorsement helped a then-underappreciated DeSantis advance from a primary election and win the governorship, has also characterized his former ally as disloyal.

The Republican governor, who has yet to launch his presidential campaign, has not engaged as directly or explicitly as Trump, but has begun to respond with thinly veiled insults.

Poll Puts Donald Trump Ahead of Ron DeSantis Among Republican Voters

Dec 17, 202200:51

When DeSantis was asked a week ago about the former president's attacks on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor pointed to his re-election victory, a less-than-subtle reminder that voters rejected Trump after one term. 

At a press conference Wednesday, a reporter referenced Trump's messages in a question to DeSantis, but he cut him off, saying, "I understand you want controversy."

Later, he launched another indirect against Trump.

“I spend my time delivering results for the people of Florida, and fighting [President] Joe Biden,” he said.

"I don't spend my time trying to smear other Republicans."

[Republican Governor Ron DeSantis sweeps Florida and catapults himself as a possible candidate for 2024]

Many national polls show Trump, the only declared Republican candidate for the 2024 nomination, leading a hypothetically crowded GOP field, with DeSantis coming in second. 

But polls released this week by the Club for Growth, a conservative organization that has tangled with Trump, showed DeSantis ahead of the former president in a head-to-head race.

Another recent poll in New Hampshire, where the GOP primary is scheduled to take place, showed DeSantis leading in double digits over Trump and others. 

DeSantis's favorability rating is typically high among GOP respondents, including former Trump voters.

A Republican strategist close to the former president said he

aims to quickly define DeSantis and neutralize what he recognizes as a threat.

Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis.Getty Images

“People who like Trump have not had an unfavorable view of DeSantis, because they see him as a supporter of the former president,” said the strategist, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.


what happens as your favorable points start to dwindle due to Trump's attacks?

Do we really think DeSantis is going to be in a stronger position than he is today?

Because he is clearly obvious to me that he has nowhere to go but down,” he added.

Former South Carolina governor and former Trump ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is expected to launch a campaign for the Republican Party nomination next week.

Others, including Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, are also considering running.

They would all compete against DeSantis for the votes of Republicans eager to outrun Trump.

[Nikki Haley will announce her 2024 presidential candidacy. She is expected to be the first Republican to challenge Trump]

The Florida governor is not expected to decide on his candidacy until later this year, when his state's legislative session ends.

Several members of his 2022 re-election campaign remain in his political orbit, ready to fan out into a White House race or, in the meantime, into support spending committees that could help him absorb some of Trump's blows.

A spokesman for DeSantis declined to comment Wednesday on Trump or the governor's immediate political plans.

A GOP consultant with friends on both sides of the rivalry wondered if Trump's attacks would take DeSantis out of the speech by stirring up the devoted fan base he has attracted online.

Trump begins to warm up the engines of his campaign for the 2024 presidential elections

Jan 31, 202301:56

“People are looking for an arc or trajectory to Trump's provocations,” said the consultant, who requested anonymity to speak candidly.

“But it's more like a boxer throwing punches to gauge his opponent's reactions.

DeSantis has clearly decided to stay out of controversy, but the way his collaborators react and exaggerate is revealing.

In the age of social media, a candidate simply can't control the reactions of some of his most vocal supporters, so it's impossible to totally control the message,” he added.

For now, DeSantis seems content to stick with his not-so-subtle contrasts.

“DeSantis is clearly leaning toward [the narrative] that national Republicans have underperformed in recent years while he won a historic re-election in Florida,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist who worked on the presidential campaign. of 2016 by Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

"Republicans want to win, and right now DeSantis looks like a winner."

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-02-09

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