A feud between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis (R) burst into the open Tuesday as the Florida governor took a veiled jab at his likely 2024 rival.
Without using Trump’s name, DeSantis appeared to draw a sharp contrast between his own electoral record and Trump’s during a press conference.
DeSantis takes shot at Trump
DeSantis’ comfortable re-election victory last year led to much buzz about his future and was widely contrasted with the GOP’s overall stumbles, which many pundits across the political spectrum blamed on Trump.
The former president has continued to face criticism that he is an electoral burden on the Republican party, a theme DeSantis appeared to echo while responding to criticism from Trump Tuesday.
DeSantis suggested that Trump, who has never conceded losing a “rigged” election in 2020 that most Republican voters believe was stolen, had been legitimately rejected by the electorate.
“The good thing is, is that the people are able to render a judgment on that whether they re-elect you or not,” DeSantis said.
“And I’m happy to say — you know in my case — not only did we win re-election, we won with the highest percentage of the vote that any Republican governor candidate has had in the history of the state of Florida.”
Trump has escalated attacks on “DeSanctimonious” recently, saying the governor is ungrateful for a career-making endorsement that catapulted him to prominence in 2018.
A core piece of DeSantis’ conservative appeal is his record on the COVID pandemic, but Trump has raised questions there, accusing the governor of “trying to rewrite history” by whitewashing his early support for lockdowns and the vaccines.
Trump stepped up his attacks in a Truth Social post labeling DeSantis a “RINO globalist” with ties to the Republican party old guard that Trump sidelined in 2016.
“The real Ron is a RINO GLOBALIST, who closed quickly down Florida and even its beaches,” Trump wrote. “Loved the Vaccines and wasted big money on ‘Testing.’ How quickly people forget!”
Trump “angrier” than ever
Trump consistently leads the pack of likely primary candidates in most polls, but DeSantis is widely seen as Trump’s most formidable challenger.
While DeSantis has appeared eager to stay above the fray, the Washington Post reports that his team is actively exploring a presidential bid.
Trump kicked off his campaign with a swing through New Hampshire on Saturday, where he delivered a stark message to those doubtful of his latest White House bid.
“They said: ‘He’s not doing rallies, he’s not campaigning. Maybe he’s lost that step,’” Trump said. “I’m more angry now and I’m more committed now than I ever was.”