Continuing his tradition of giving disparaging nicknames to political rivals, Donald Trump took many supporters by surprise this weekend when he took a shot at Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R), a likely 2024 foe, calling him “Ron DeSanctimonious.”
Trump’s attack received some backlash from the right side of Twitter, with critics saying that Trump was causing unnecessary division days before midterm elections that Republicans are expected to sweep.
Trump gives DeSantis nickname
The comment came at a rally for Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania on Saturday night, while Trump was touting his dominance in 2024 primary polls.
“There it is, Trump at 71 percent, Ron DeSanctimonious at 10%,” Trump said. “Mike Pence at seven, oh, Mike is doing better than I thought. Liz Cheney there’s no way she’s at 4%. There’s no way. There’s no way. But we’re at 71 to 10 to 7 to 4.”
A number of conservative pundits blasted Trump over the comment, including longtime Trump critic Matt Walsh of the Daily Wire.
“DeSantis is an extremely effective conservative governor who has had real policy wins and real cultural wins. Trump isn’t going to be able to take this one down with a dumb nickname. He better have more than that up his sleeve,” Walsh wrote.
But some came to Trump’s defense including pollster Rich Baris, who claimed, citing Republican donors and lawmakers, that DeSantis has been secretly chatting about White House ambitions with prominent establishment-aligned Republicans, such as Paul Ryan.
The timing of Trump’s comment was unfortunate but hardly surprising, Baris added.
“But come on, everyone should know by now, that’s Trump,” Baris said.
Trump announcement imminent?
Trump has made it clear that he thinks DeSantis owes him a debt of gratitude for launching the governor to political stardom in 2018 with his endorsement. In October, Trump rebuked the governor’s endorsement of anti-Trump Republican Joe O’Dea in Colorado, calling it a “big mistake.”
But the day after debuting his nickname for DeSantis, Trump encouraged supporters in Miami to vote for the governor — who was rallying for his re-election separately. Trump was speaking at a rally with Senator Marco Rubio (Fl.), who Trump dubbed “Little Marco” during the 2016 Republican primary.
Trump is expected to announce he is running for the presidency days after the midterm elections, putting him and DeSantis on a possible collision course, although rumors swirled Monday that he could declare his candidacy Monday night at an Ohio rally with J.D. Vance.