Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who won a landslide win in the November midterms, has come out in the open, engaging in a rhetorical battle against his big boss Donald Trump's questioning of his credibility, leadership, character, and ability to deliver the White House for the Republicans in 2024.
Now, it appears DeSantis has launched his fight back with a vituperative attack on the ex-President after ignoring months of slanderous barbs from Trump. For the first time, DeSantis has engaged the ex-President over leadership, character and his uncertain ability to win elections virtually announcing his candidacy for the presidential race.
The verbal battle of DeSantis is seen as a fightback and a clear signal to the GOP that he is throwing in his hat for nomination for the the 2024 Republican presidential race, media reports said.
"You know, you can call me whatever you want," DeSantis told television host Piers Morgan in an interview aired on Thursday. "I mean, just as long as you, you know, also call me a winner," America's Number one newspaper in circulation, USA Today said.
DeSantis criticized what he called Trump's "daily drama" of his leadership style, creating tensions within the GOP. In the Piers Morgan interview, DeSantis discussed character. "It's not saying that you don't ever make a mistake in your personal life, but I think what type of character are you bringing?" DeSantis said. "I think the person is more about how you handle your public duties and the kind of character you bring to that endeavour."
DeSantis, who is yet to formally announce his candidacy for presidency ahead of the vote in the GOP primaries, seems to be in a warm-up mode as he mentioned his leadership style as being a stark contrast with Trump.
"The way we run the government, I think, is no daily drama," DeSantis said. "Focus on the big picture and put points on the board, and I think that's something that's very important," he was quoted by USA Today as saying.
Trump has been nasty towards DeSantis, reports said, as he has accused him of inappropriate behaviour during his year as a high school teacher, albeit without total lack of evidence or allegation.
What has apparently irked DeSantis to hit back is the Trump team's complaint to a state ethics committee claiming the Florida Governor was busy running for President rather than attending and looking into the needs of Floridians.
Trump, in a written statement, said DeSantis "is finally admitting he's in the Race by beginning to fight back".
The former President is a Palm Beach resident, who is a constituent of DeSantis.
Trump attacked the Florida Governor over proposals on Social Security, Medicare, crime and education concerning the constituency from which he had won a landslide victory in the November midterms.
"Ron is an average Governor, but the best by far in the Country in one category, Public Relations," Trump said.
A column in The New York Post, owned by Rupert Murdoch who backs DeSantis, said the Florida Governor "has finally taken the gloves off and launched a blistering attack on his former mentor, former President Donald Trump".
DeSantis drew up a new controversy over Trumps handling of the Covid-19 pandemic during 2020 saying in his place he (DeSantis) would have fired the Health Adviser Anthony Fauci. But Trump retained him as the pandemic raged. US was the worst affected by the pandemic, while Trump kept him on.
Trump supporters and DeSantis detractors in the Florida council of 20 members hit back saying DeSantis projected himself as a pioneer in the reopening of schools and businesses, while putting Floridians' lives at risk in the pursuit of competitive politics with the ex President.
Trump alleged "DeSantis was a big Lockdown Governor ... sealing all beaches and everything else for an extended period of time."
He said DeSantis would never have become Governor in the first place without his endorsement during a Republican primary in 2018. "It's my fault," he said on Truth Social. "I put him there!"
Local voters have voiced another sentiment about the Trump-DeSantis feud: "Why do they both have to be from Florida?"
Susan MacManus, political scientist emerita at the University of South Florida, expressed herself against what she called "slash and burn" politics and said why should they both be from Florida, they can be from different states, referring to nominations for the primaries.
Democrats are enjoying the Trump-DeSantis verbal feud and are joyful while Republicans are concerned that the feud could result in a divisive primary that could weaken Republican campaigns for the White House and Congress, media report said.
The issues between Trump and DeSantis are too many for any resolution. But many polls conducted by agencies show a close race between Trump and DeSantis with some showing DeSantis ahead and others saying Trump's ahead. The GOP is worried over divisions. But the general feeling is donors are for DeSatntis without legal baggage against Trump, though Trump exerts considerable influence in the Republican National Convention (RNC) which funds the GOP nominee.