While much of the political world spent Tuesday pouring over President Joe Biden’s contentious State of the Union address, former President Donald Trump was going after a former friend.
Trump shared a controversial photo, allegedly of Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., on his Truth Social app with a few simple questions.
“No way?” and “That’s not Ron, is it? He would never do such a thing!”
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Critics said it was playing right into the hands of Democrats by “amplifying a false Democrat accusation against DeSantis, accusing him of pedophilia.”
Take a look —
Trump amplifying a false Democrat accusation against DeSantis, accusing him of pedophilia. Not cool. pic.twitter.com/jOrGGwYVeq
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) February 7, 2023
It’s the latest in a series of increasingly personal attacks by Trump against DeSantis in recent days, and has been called a declaration of “all-out political warfare against his burgeoning rival.”
DeSantis is widely considered Trump’s biggest potential threat for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Trump appears eager to box the Florida governor out.
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In other Truth Social posts, Trump has used the nickname “Ron DeSanctimonious” and blasted the rising Republican star as a “globalist” who “shut down Florida and its beaches” at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
DeSantis has remained largely quiet in the lead-up to his expected announcement, but 0ther potential Republican rivals aren’t holding back.
No fewer than a half dozen Republicans eyeing the White House have begun actively courting top political operatives in states like New Hampshire and Iowa, which traditionally host the opening presidential primary contests.
For now, DeSantis seems content to move forward with his own fiery “anti-woke” agenda in the legislature before a presidential announcement in late spring or early summer. His team is beginning to hold informal conversations with a handful of prospective campaign staff in key states, according to those involved in the discussions.
But compared with would-be rivals, the Florida governor, famous for crafting his own political strategy, appears to be stepping into the 2024 presidential primary season much more deliberately.
“They understand they are in kind of a sweet spot now. They can feel the demand building and they don’t really have to show any leg yet,” said David Kochel, a veteran Republican operative who has been in touch with DeSantis’ team to relay interest from activists. “I just don’t think there’s any urgency yet to start putting things in place.”
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Or is it way too early to talk Republican presidential primary votes?
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The Horn editorial team