In his latest attack, former President Donald Trump accused Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of improper behavior during his time as a high school teacher. It came after an earlier incident in which DeSantis implied that Trump is an electoral loser.
According to the Daily Mail, Trump put up a picture on Truth Social of DeSantis posing with three young women. The image featured a caption which read, "Here is Ron DeSanctimonious grooming high school girls with alcohol as a teacher."
The Mail referenced a New York Times article in which former students of DeSantis confirmed that he did attend parties with them where alcohol was served. However, the women stressed that the parties took place after they had graduated.
For his part, DeSantis addressed the controversy during a press conference on Wednesday, saying, "I spend my time delivering results for the people of Florida and fighting against Joe Biden; that’s how I spend my time. I don’t spend my time trying to smear other Republicans."
"I've faced defamatory stuff every single day I've been governor. That's just the nature of it," DeSantis said. "It just goes with the territory. You gotta have a thick skin."
The radio station KXL noted that last month DeSantis implicitly contrasted his record on COVID with Trump's, saying, "And the good thing is that the people are able to render a judgment on that, whether they reelect you or not."
"I’m happy to say, you know, in my case, not only did we win reelection, we won with the highest percentage of the vote that any Republican governor candidate has in the history of the state of Florida," he pointed out.
While DeSantis has thus far given no indication that he plans to enter the 2024 presidential race, a new poll from Monmouth University shows that he leads Trump by 13 points with likely Republican voters.
Conducted between January 26 and February 2, the survey found that 53% of respondents favored DeSantis compared with 40% who backed Trump in a head-to-head match up.
DeSantis was ahead of Trump among Republican Evangelicals, non-Evangelicals, moderates, those under 65 years of age, and voters who earn more that $50,000 per year. In contrast, Trump only led among those who were over 65 or made less than $50,000 annually.
However, those after likely Republican voters were given a range of options which included former Vice President Mike Pence, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
When presented with alternative candidates, support for both DeSantis and Trump dropped, with each man being supported by 33% of respondents. Monmouth University noted that this result represents an improvement for Trump, as a similar poll from December put his support at just 26% compared with 39% for DeSantis.
"Both Trump and DeSantis are well-liked by the party’s rank and file, but it’s likely that voter opinion of Trump is more firmly set than it is for DeSantis right now," pollster Patrick Murray said.