Former US President, Donald Trump has lashed out at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, putting more tension into the rivalry between the two top possible Republican challengers for president in 2024.
DeSantis, 44, won re-election in a landslide in Tuesday’s midterms, sealing his status as the Republican party’s brightest rising star.
He is widely expected to run for the party’s 2024 White House nomination.
Trump belittled his former political apprentice as an “average” governor, lacking in “loyalty”.
Some of Trump’s most high-profile endorsed candidates lost pivotal races on Tuesday, affecting his status as Republican ‘kingmaker’ and leading several Republicans to blame his divisive brand for the party’s disappointing performance.
Trump meanwhile has a massive campaign war chest and remains hugely popular with the party’s base – and would be a strong opponent if DeSantis, or any other Republican dares challenge him.
In a lengthy statement on Thursday night, November 10, Trump dismissed the Florida governor as a political lightweight who had come to him “in desperate shape” when running for his first term in office in 2017.
“An average governor lacking in “loyalty”
“Ron had low approval, bad polls, and no money, but he said that if I would Endorse him, he could win,” Mr Trump said.
“I also fixed his campaign, which had completely fallen apart.”
He added that DeSantis – whom he is nicknaming “Ron DeSanctimonious” – was “playing games” by refusing to rule out a presidential bid.
“Well, in terms of loyalty and class, that’s really not the right answer,” Mr Trump added.
As at press time, the governor has not responded to Trump’s jibes on Thursday.
Trump is reportedly expected to announce his own plan for a White House comeback as soon as next week.