The 2024 GOP primary race has long been predicted to be a showdown between former president Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. On Tuesday, it seems Trump cast the first stone, giving us a taste of the mess to come.
Trump reposted a photo on his social media app, Truth Social, depicting a 23-year-old DeSantis with three unidentified young women. The unverified content he reposted alleged that the photo was taken when DeSantis was drinking alcohol with “high school girls” at a party. “That’s not Ron, is it?” Trump wrote in the caption. “He would never do such a thing!”
The photo was taken after the 2001 to 2002 academic year at the elite private Darlington School, where DeSantis taught history and government before attending Harvard Law, according to the New York Times. Several former students told the Times that DeSantis often went to parties, including those where alcohol was served, with the seniors.
“It was his first job out of Yale, he was cute,” a former student said. “We didn’t really think too much about it.”
The shady post portends how the coming GOP primary race could go: With Trump throwing jabs based on the lowest hanging fruit, while DeSantis tries to steal his voters by passing Trumped up policy. The Florida governor has spent the past year escalating far-right culture wars via changes to public education, voting rights and immigration policy in Florida, throwing a bone to Trump’s base.
Trump has tried to paint the governor as insufficiently conservative by deeming him a “RINO [Republican in name only] globalist”, but polling shows that DeSantis’s favorability is catching up to the former president.
DeSantis responded to Trump’s attack at a Wednesday morning press conference. “I spend my time delivering results for the people of Florida and fighting against Joe Biden […],” he said. “I don’t spend my time trying to smear other Republicans.