Former President Donald Trump is already involved in a lot of controversial matters. He is approaching Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with a newly urgent hostility, rushing to turn the Republican base against his most formidable potential rival in 2024.
Out is “Ron DeSanctimonious,” Trump’s clunky attempt at a nickname.
There are increasingly frequent public floggings on Trump’s Truth Social website that brand DeSantis in terms that could repel GOP voters.
“RINO GLOBALIST,” Trump fumed last week, using the pejorative acronym for “Republican in name only.”
On Tuesday, he posted twice to call attention to a 2021 blog post from a site called The Hill Reporter, which purportedly showed a picture of DeSantis with several young women during his brief time as a high school teacher more than 20 years ago. Trump’s posts questioned, without evidence, whether DeSantis was inappropriate with his female students.
NBC News has not confirmed the authenticity of the picture. DeSantis has not commented on it.
Trump, whose endorsement in 2018 helped a then-underdog DeSantis advance from a primary and win the governorship, also has characterized his one-time ally as disloyal. DeSantis, who has not yet launched a presidential campaign, has not engaged as directly or as explicitly as Trump has. But he has begun to respond with thinly veiled insults of his own.