Former president Donald Trump on Saturday appeared to take his first public swipe at the man who many Republicans have been eyeing as a potential alternative to take on Joe Biden in 2024: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Mr Trump mockingly referred to his onetime ally, who won the Sunshine State’s 2018 gubernatorial election after earning the then-president’s endorsement, as “Ron DeSanctimonious” while discussing his standing in the polls during a rally in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
The crowd who had gathered to hear him stump for Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano and senate candidate Mehmet Oz had little reaction to the barb, which he rolled out as he noted that he still leads the Florida governor in polls of the potential 2024 Republican primary field.
The muted reaction from his supporters was in stark contrast to how they reacted during his 2016 campaign when he would unveil barbed nicknames for his GOP primary opponents.
Of one rival turned ally, Texas senator Ted Cruz, Mr Trump once called him “Lyin’ Ted” because Mr Cruz, in his opinion, was “always walking in with the bible held high” but later “puts it down, then he lies”.
Another senatorial ally, Florida Republican Marco Rubio, was dubbed “Liddle Marco” by the then-real estate developer, who mocked him for the way he grabbed for a bottle of water while delivering a GOP response to one of former president Barack Obama’s State of the Union speeches.