- Trump denied a New York Times report that he was trying out nicknames for DeSantis.
- He has privately called the Florida governor “Meatball Ron,” the report said.
- “I don’t even think about it – a very unimportant subject to me!!!” Trump wrote on Truth Social.
Former President Donald Trump insists he spends little time reflecting on the person who is shaping up to be his biggest Republican rival in 2024.
On Monday, Trump went to his social media company, Truth Social, to deny a Sunday report in The New York Times that said Trump had come up with nicknames for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and asked his team for scathing material .
“All the fake news is reporting that I spend a lot of time coming up with a good ‘nickname’ for Ron DeSanctimonious that will obviously give the President’s ‘thing’ a try,” Trump wrote. “You are all 100% wrong, I don’t even think about it – a very unimportant subject to me!!!”
Nicknames shared by anonymous sources to The New York Times included “Meatball Ron” and “Shutdown Ron,” a reference to the governor who shut down Florida early in the pandemic.
However, Florida was one of the first states to reopen, despite heavy criticism, and the Trump administration, on orders from federal health officials, encouraged states to close.
During his 2016 White House race, Trump gave derisive nicknames to many of his opponents, who tended to hang on. He called Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas “Lyin’ Ted”, former GOP Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida “Low Energy Jeb” and Hillary Clinton “Crooked Hillary”.
DeSantis is widely viewed as the leading contender for the Republican nomination for president in 2024, although he has not stated his intentions and Trump is the only one to have made a candidacy official. DeSantis is consistently the best Republican in polls behind Trump, who is backed by GOP voters in a hypothetical White House primary.
The DeSantis campaign has not responded to Trump’s attacks. On February 8, DeSantis said he was focused on Florida and fighting President Joe Biden.
“I don’t spend my time slandering other Republicans,” he said.
In recent months, Trump has claimed credit for picking DeSantis, claiming DeSantis wept in front of him when he asked for confirmation in 2018, and branding DeSantis “average” and “very disloyal.”
Trump first attacked DeSantis just before Election Day, calling him “Ron DeSantimonious.” He told reporters that he voted for governor, but he didn’t campaign with him or give the same ringing endorsement he did in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election — one that helped DeSantis quash the nomination.
DeSantis still won state re-election by nearly 20 points.
Last week, Trump escalated his attacks on DeSantis, sharing a more than 20-year-old photo alleging that the governor drank with underage people when he was a high school teacher.
The photo shows DeSantis smiling between three women with blurred faces whose ages are not clear. One of the women in the photos is holding a brown glass bottle, but DeSantis is not pictured drinking. However, the caption reads, “This is Ron DeSantimonious, a teacher nursing high school girls with alcohol,” followed by the vomit emoji.
“It’s not Ron, is it? He would never do such a thing!” Trump wrote sarcastically on Truth Social.