Ron DeSantis has been blasted by both Joe Biden and Donald Trump as he surges in the polls. The Florida Governor leads the former President by 13 points in a head-to-head poll and has been widely tipped to win the Republican nomination over Trump.
However, both Biden and Trump have targeted DeSantis this last week, with the President taking aim at the Governor during the State of the Union address.
The President lambasted the Florida leader for opposing Medicaid expansion provided under the Affordable Care Act.
“Over 1.1 million people in Florida would be eligible for Medicaid if Governor DeSantis just said, ‘I agree to expand it,'” Biden said.
Meanwhile, Trump went for the throat and echoed claims DeSantis groomed underage girls during his career as a high school teacher.
In one image shared by Trump on Truth Social, DeSantis is seen holding what is believed to be a beer while with teenage girls.
According to a report from The New York Times in November, the photo from Trump’s Truth Social post was taken after the 2001-02 academic year when DeSantis was a teacher at the Darlington School.
They noted that Hill Reporter, a blog put out by a Democratic super PAC, published the image in 2021 from Darlington in 2002.
Two former students, both women, told the outlet they remembered DeSantis attending at least two parties where alcohol was served, but they said that the parties took place after graduation and that they were not bothered by his presence at the time.
The jabs from Trump drew a rare response from DeSantis, who said at a Wednesday news conference that he does not “spend my time trying to smear other Republicans”.
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“I’ve faced defamatory stuff every single day I’ve been governor. That’s just the nature of it,” DeSantis responded on Wednesday when asked about Trump’s post during a news conference in Ocala.
“It just goes with the territory. You gotta have a thick skin.
“I spend my time delivering results for the people of Florida and fighting against Joe Biden. That’s how I spend my time. I don’t spend my time trying to smear other Republicans.”
There is no evidence to suggest DeSantis groomed underage students while art Darlington.
It comes as a Monmouth University Polling Institute poll found that in a head-to-head fight, 53 percent of Republican voters said they would pick DeSantis compared to Trump’s 40 percent.
The Florida Governor is ahead of Trump across most major voting blocs in the GOP except those earning less than $50,000 a year and those age 65 or older.
However, when polling was carried out for a broad field of GOP nominees, both DeSantis and Trump hit 33 points, while former Vice President Mike Pence reached two percent support.
Nikki Haley, former US envoy to the United Nations, Texas Sen Ted Cruz and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo all garnered just 1 percent support.
The poll of 566 Republican and GOP-leaning US voters was conducted by phone between January 26 and Feb. 2, and has a margin of error of 6.1 percentage points.
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