Ahead of the probable primary face-off between former president Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, at least so far, Trump has regularly ripped and insulted DeSantis, but DeSantis has usually not responded.
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That changed this week, at least up to a point.
Donald Trump Goes After Ron DeSantis
Earlier this week, Trump shared a pair of Truth Social posts seeking to imply something untoward about DeSantis’ behavior when he worked as a teacher at a Georgia private school when he was in his 20s.
“Here is Ron DeSanctimonious grooming high school girls with alcohol as a teacher,” one of the posts Trump shared said, using a nickname that the former president has used in the past for the Florida governor.
The photo of DeSantis drinking with young women appears to have come from a Hill Reporter piece from 2021, which alleged that DeSantis “had a reputation among students for being a young ‘hot teacher’ who girls loved.”
A New York Times piece late last year focused on DeSantis’ time at that school, mentioning in passing that the future governor “was a frequent presence at parties with the seniors who lived in town.”
However, there have been no accusations of sexual misconduct leveled by anyone at DeSantis.
Appearing at a press conference Wednesday, DeSantis addressed the accusations, although he did not mention Trump by name.
“I spend my time delivering results for the people of Florida and fighting against Joe Biden — That’s how I spend my time,” DeSantis said, as quoted by Politico. “I don’t spend my time trying to smear other Republicans.”
“I would not take time out of being governor to be fighting lawsuits,” he said about the implication that he would sue Trump over the accusations. “It’s just not practical.”
“And if an accusation of grooming is the opening salvo against a man who’s not even running yet, it’s likely to get much, much worse, particularly since DeSantis’s purported strength—his country-club conservative, comparatively sane demeanor—might also be a weakness,” Puck News wrote in an analysis this week.
“Undereducated voters may be susceptible to some of the B.S. if he doesn’t defend himself more vociferously. And Trump has always taken special glee in punching down at people who don’t fight back.”
Here Comes Ron DeSantis
DeSantis has yet to officially declare his candidacy for president. But The Hill reported Thursday that he is edging closer to a decision on whether to run.
“Several Republicans familiar with the deliberations say that DeSantis is almost certain to seek the GOP’s presidential nomination. His advisers have begun reaching out to and interviewing potential hires for a campaign and are gaming out the best time to announce his intentions,” the report said. The report added that DeSantis is unlikely to make an announcement before the end of Florida’s legislative session this spring.
“I think his mind is pretty much made up at this point,” one Republican operative told The Hill. “My read on it is: Let’s get through session, get some stuff done and see where things stand. But unless something changes drastically between now and then, I’d say he’s a go.”
DeSantis’ team, however, is “laying the groundwork” for a presidential bid.
“He needs to seize the opportunity now because who knows what things will look like down the road,” another Republican said, of the notion that now is the perfect time for the governor to pursue a presidential bid. “He has the momentum now.”
In addition, a group called Ready for Ron has gotten involved in the race.
That group has “filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission last month declaring its intent to spend more than $3 million on television advertising and phone, mail and digital promotion through late June — an effort that could help DeSantis fill a campaign gap between now and a potential announcement.”
Expertise and Experience:
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.