Donald Trump vs. DeSantis: It’s Getting Serious: The political boxing match between former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis hasn’t even started.
Trump is already delivering punches to the face and body blows to DeSantis, figuratively speaking.
Donald Trump Rails Against DeSantis
On his social network Truth Social, Trump referenced a photo of a young DeSantis with a handful of female students that were initially uncovered by a blog called the Hill Reporter which claimed the girls were seniors at the time.
The New York Times also picked up the story that put DeSantis in a questionable light when he was a teacher.
Ron DeSantis and High School Students
Trump used these reports for ammunition to imply DeSantis is a “pedophile.” It should be said there is no evidence to make such an implication or charge in anyway.
DeSantis appears to be attending a party in the photo with three students. One looks to be holding a beer bottle.
An un-named whistleblower at the Darlington School in Rome, Georgia, said DeSantis would have been around 23 at the time when he taught history. The whistleblower wondered what DeSantis was doing at the party.
Donald Trump Skewers DeSantis
The former president wrote, “That’s not Ron, is it? He would never do such a thing!”
He also posted, “Ron DeSantis was having a ‘drink’ party with his students when he was a high school teacher. Having drinks with underage girls and cuddling with them certainly look [sic] pretty gross and ephebophiliaesque.”
I had to look up ephebophilia as I had never heard of it before. It means a sexual attraction to adolescents aged 15 to 18. Again, a big charge by Trump that can’t be proven.
Trump Ramps Up the Insults
So far, DeSantis has not defended himself against Trump insults and accusations.
Trump has called DeSantis a Republican in Name Only (RINO) and a globalist, pejoratives designed to fire up MAGA supporters.
Trump has also given DeSantis the nickname “Ron DeSanctimonious,” in reference to DeSantis and his constant moral outrage and self-righteous indignation that the Florida governor exhibits while fighting the culture wars.
Trump has also said that DeSantis is a friend of Jeb Bush, who ran against Trump in the 2016 presidential primary.
Bush was the frequent target of insults from Trump during the campaign.
Donald Trump points out that he endorsed DeSantis for governor in his first run in 2018, implying that DeSantis in disloyal.
New Poll Shows Strength for DeSantis
Trump is concerned about DeSantis growing in national stature and garnering support among Republicans. A poll announced by Club For Growth on February 6 had DeSantis in front of Trump in a hypothetical matchup by nine points. When a list of possible challengers was given to respondents, Trump regained the lead over DeSantis by four points.
Trump Using His Social Network to Great Effect
While Truth Social has only around 4.3 million subscribers, Trump has been using it to full effect in missives that are covered by the mainstream media. Trump often “re-Truths” (similar to a retweet on Twitter) various insults against DeSantis.
It remains to be seen whether the Florida governor will make a statement about the photo in question. Trump is sure to bring it up again and it will likely be campaign fodder should DeSantis declare for the presidency when the Florida legislative session ends in May.
Trump has taken the fight to DeSantis and peppered him with insults and serious allegations about the photo from DeSantis’ teaching days.
The Florida governor may have to respond soon to at least go on record to defend himself, or the charges may stick.
That is just what Trump wants – a weakened DeSantis before he even tries to run. But for now, Trump is looking a little desperate and maybe even a little scared of what DeSantis could bring to the table in a 2024 GOP primary.
Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.