The 2024 Republican primary isn't going to get ugly — it already is
Trump has been doing just that on Tuesday, though, sharing a few posts on Truth Social purporting to show DeSantis “grooming high school girls with alcohol as a teacher.”
“That’s not Ron, is it?” Trump wrote, sarcastically. “He would never do such a thing!”
Trump going heavy on the "DeSantis is a pedophile" stuff today. pic.twitter.com/LS2zRpke3z— Will Sommer (@willsommer) February 7, 2023
The New York Times reported last year on DeSantis’ time as a teacher at the Darlington School in northwest Georgia. The report notes that several students described DeSantis as “a frequent presence at parties” with seniors at the school. “As an 18-year-old, I remember thinking, ‘What are you doing here, dude?’” one former student told the Times.
The photo Trump shared on Tuesday was originally published in 2021 by a Democratic blog called The Hill Reporter, which noted that the girls in the photo were seniors when it was taken in 2002.
DeSantis responded to Trump’s posts on Wednesday. “I spend my time delivering results for the people of Florida and fighting against Joe Biden,” he said. “That’s how I spend my time. I don’t spend my time trying to smear other Republicans.”
BREAKING: DeSantis responds to Trump ReTruth accusing him of being a "groomer"— Florida’s Voice (@FLVoiceNews) February 8, 2023
"I'd just say this. I spend my time delivering results for the people of Florida and fighting against Joe Biden [...] I don't spend my time trying to smear other Republicans." pic.twitter.com/Ddj9Mb1MYj
Trump’s line of attack comes as DeSantis seeks to establish himself as the Republican Party’s leading culture warrior, in part by stoking fear over pedophiles and groomers. The governor’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prohibits the discussion of gender identity in lower grades of Florida public schools, was widely marketed as an anti-groomer bill, the idea being that educators had been “grooming” young children for sex. DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, last year accused opponents of the then-bill of being groomers themselves, and right-wing activists quickly descended on Disney after the company came out against the legislation. DeSantis is still trying to punish Disney for doing so.
Trump’s Truth Social posts on Tuesday come amid a torrent of attacks against the governor. The former president has recently called DeSantis a “globalist” and a friend to Jeb Bush, while accusing him to bowing to pressure to implement Covid-19 mitigation measures toward the beginning of the pandemic. He’s also whined that DeSantis should be loyal considering it was Trump’s endorsement that helped him win his 2018 gubernatorial run. “Ron DeSantis got elected because of me. He had nothing. He was dead. He was leaving the race. He came over and he begged me. He begged me,” Trump told Hugh Hewitt last week. “He said if you endorse me I’ll win. There were tears coming down from his eyes. He said if you endorse me I’ll win.”