Trump reportedly workshopping lewd new nickname for Ron DeSantis

Latest slur below the belt, even by former president’s standards

Joe Sommerlad
Wednesday 08 March 2023 15:28 GMT
Donald Trump nicknames Florida governor Ron DeSantis ‘Ron DeSanctimonious’

Donald Trump has reportedly been testing out new nicknames for Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who is widely expected to challenge him for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

Having already branded his rival “Ron DeSanctimonious” on the road and “Meatball Ron” in private – a claim reported by The New York Times that Mr Trump has since denied – he has now begun road testing “Ron DisHonest”, “Ron DeEstablishment” and, incredibly, “Tiny D”, Bloomberg reports, all of which are said to have been cooked up on the golf course.

If “Meatball Ron” was a bad taste attack on Mr DeSantis’s Italian heritage, that last moniker, none too subtly implying that the governor is not especially well-endowed, is below the belt, quite literally, even by Mr Trump’s playground standards.

Alternatively, the new nickname might simply mean “Tiny DeSantis”, a wry reference to the governor being photographed recently in heeled cowboy boots to raise his height.

In a tactic borrowed from the trash-talking call-outs of professional wrestling, Mr Trump has long used name-calling to belittle his opponents, from “Sleepy Joe” Biden, “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz, “Liddle Marco” Rubio and “Low Energy Jeb” Bush to more idiosyncratic inventions like branding US transport secretary Pete Buttigieg “Alfred E Neuman” because of his apparent resemblance to the Mad magazine icon of that name.

Another piercing, if cruel, example was his repeated taunting of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pochahontas” over her claim of Native American ancestry.

“There is no surer sign that Donald Trump feels threatened or rivalled by somebody than when he’s given them a nasty nickname, and if he’s given Ron DeSantis multiple nasty nicknames, you know he’s feeling threatened,” New York Times journalist Michael Barbaro observed on a recent episode of The Daily podcast.

So far, only the former president and Nikki Haley, his ex-ambassador to the UN, have publicly declared their intention to seek the nomination but Mr DeSantis has a huge following among conservatives and is thought to covet the White House.

Mr Trump supported his rival’s gubernatorial run against Andrew Gillum in 2018 but has since gone after Mr DeSantis, driven by his opposition to federal lockdown measures during the Covid-19 pandemic, which many on the right insisted amounted to an infringement of their civil liberties.

The governor has since consolidated his fame among Republicans by embracing culture war issues, introducing a so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill to prevent discussion of LGBT+ rights issues in Florida classrooms, and by standing up to the Disney Corporation, an influential player in Sunshine State politics.

While Mr Trump gave his now-customary Saturday night address to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland last week, Mr DeSantis preferred to stay away, firmly walking his own path to announcing his candidacy for the presidency.

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