Donald Trump, in his latest salvo at the Florida governor and likely future primary opponent, implied that Gov. Ron DeSantis acted inappropriately during his stint as a private school teacher in the early 2000s.
Accusing political opponents and enemies of pedophilia, “grooming,” or other inappropriate sexual behavior, with little-to-no evidence, has become an outsized part of the conservative playbook in recent years.
Donald Trump vs. Ron DeSantis Gets Serious
Former President Donald Trump did just that this week, sharing a post on Truth Social implying certain things about his latest enemy and likely future political opponent, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
That Ron DeSantis has been one of the leading figures on the right who have accused others of grooming has apparently not saved him from such attacks.
On Tuesday, the former president shared a pair of posts that others had posted to Truth Social, showing a young DeSantis appearing to be drinking at a party with three young women. One of the posts, using Trump’s nickname for DeSantis, stated “Here is Ron DeSanctimonious grooming high school girls with alcohol as a teacher.”
The photo appears to have originated from a 2021 piece on the anti-Trump website Hill Reporter, which was founded by the left-leaning Trump-era social media personalities Ed and Brian Krassenstein.
That piece alleged that during DeSantis’ time as a teacher at a private school in Georgia, when he was in his early 20s, the future governor “had a reputation among students for being a young ‘hot teacher’ who girls loved.”
Last November, the New York Times did a piece on DeSantis’ time at that school, which drew more attention to comments DeSantis supposedly made in class about the Civil War not being about slavery. But even at the time, the piece was seen as something of a dud, and few of the revelations have been mentioned much in political discourse since.
The Times piece did note that DeSantis “was a frequent presence at parties with the seniors who lived in town.” In referencing the Hill Reporter story and the photo, the Times added that “two former students, both women, remembered him attending at least two parties where alcohol was served, but they said that the parties took place after graduation and that they were not bothered by his presence at the time.”
At any rate, there has been no evidence presented by anyone that DeSantis acted in a sexually inappropriate manner with students or anyone else.
The accusations, meanwhile, have set off battles between influencers of the right, with Trump’s past ties to Jeffrey Epstein also being invoked.
In other Truth Social posts Tuesday, Trump posted an old tweet of his from 2018, calling for the Florida governor and Senate races to be called, on account of “large numbers of new ballots that showed up out of nowhere” in DeSantis’ race for governor that year and Rick Scott’s for Senate.
“Dear DeSantis 2024 brothers: you hate Trump’s obsession with elections fraud? Well, his obsession with election fraud saved your boy, DeSantis.” This implies that Trump’s tweet was the only thing that caused DeSantis to win his governor’s race in 2018, which does not appear to be true.
Trump also shared a news story from 2021, stating that DeSantis was “glad” that “violent protestors” were arrested for their roles in the January 6 Capitol riot. “What about ANTIFA & BLM, Ron?” he said.
Ron DeSantis is not officially in the presidential race yet but is expected to announce his candidacy this spring.
Whether he or Donald Trump is currently ahead in the polls is a matter of some dispute, depending on which poll, which methodology, and how the questions are asked by the pollsters.
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.