OCALA, FLORIDA — On Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis addressed a photo circulated by former President Donald Trump on social media, insinuating that the Florida governor had groomed underaged teens.
The day before, Trump shared a photo on his Truth Social account of what appears to be a young Ron DeSantis posing with three females whose faces have been blurred out. The original post says “Here is Ron DeSanctimonious grooming high school girls with alcohol as a teacher.” Trump shared the post and added the caption: “That’s not Ron, is it? He would never do such a thing!”
The photo surfaced in October 2021 in a story by The Hill Reporter, which alleged the photo was taken two decades ago when DeSantis was a teacher at a Georgia high school.
DESANTIS FIRES BACK
The reporter who asked the question wanted to know how the governor’s roundtable discussion on Tuesday – in which he called for legal reform to curb media malpractice – might hold Trump accountable in the future. DeSantis pointed out that his concern is for protecting low-profile private citizens rather than public figures such as himself.
“I've faced defamatory stuff every single day I've been governor. That's just the nature of it,” he told reporters when asked about Trump’s allegations. “It just goes with the territory. You’ve got to have a thick skin.”
After addressing the specific nature of the question, DeSantis fired a thinly veiled shot back at Trump.
“I spend my time delivering results for the people of Florida and fighting against Joe Biden,” DeSantis said. “I don't spend my time trying to smear other Republicans.”
WAR OF WORDS
Trump’s social media attacks on Tuesday were the latest in a string of barbs thrown at DeSantis in recent months. DeSantis has refrained from publicly acknowledging most of the insults and has avoided mentioning Trump’s name when responding.
Last month, Trump accused the governor of “trying to rewrite history” regarding Florida’s COVID response. In November, Trump blasted the governor, calling him an “average Republican governor with great Public Relations” and nicknaming him “DeSanctimonious.”
“I don’t think any governor got attacked more – particularly by corporate media – than me over my four-year term,” DeSantis said in November. “What you learn is… all that’s just noise. And really what matters is – are you leading, are you getting in front of issues, are you delivering results for people… and are you standing up for folks? And if you do that, none of that stuff matters.”