Trump Comes Out Swinging at Ron DeSantis in Battle for Iowa Support

Former President Donald Trump threw several digs at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis while on stage at an event in Iowa Monday, just three days after the governor visited the Hawkeye State.

Trump, who in November became the first candidate to announce a bid for the 2024 presidential election, has repeatedly attacked DeSantis using his Truth Social account, boasting poll numbers showing his lead on the governor in a potential GOP primary or by calling him Ron "DeSanctimonious." While DeSantis has yet to formally enter the race, he is rumored to be launching his campaign in the spring, and is on a nationwide tour to promote his new book, The Courage to Be Free.

While speaking to a crowd of supporters in Davenport, Iowa, on Monday, Trump assailed DeSantis, accusing him of pushing to "decimate" Social Security protection by raising the minimum retirement age to 70.

Trump Takes Jab At DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, left, on Friday speaks to Iowa voters in Des Moines, while former President Donald Trump, right, on Monday addresses his Iowa supporters in Davenport, as he takes several jabs at DeSantis. Scott Olson/Getty Images

"He wanted to decimate it and voted against it three times," Trump said. "Voted against Social Security, that's a bad one. A lot of people don't know that, but I think they've been finding out over the last four weeks—one of the reasons we're zooming in the polls, perhaps."

The former president also told the crowd that DeSantis was "strongly opposed" to ethanol—a selling point for Trump while he was speaking to the second-highest agriculture-producing state in the nation. According to NBC News, DeSantis voted to either restructure or slash subsidies for agricultural products such as ethanol while representing Florida's 6th Congressional District.

Trump also claimed that DeSantis was "a disciple of Paul Ryan," who the former president claimed is "a RINO loser who currently is destroying Fox and would constantly vote against entitlements." Ryan served as House speaker for a portion of DeSantis' tenure in Congress.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney was also briefly mentioned. According to Trump, Ryan was the reason Romney lost his 2012 presidential election to former President Barack Obama, adding, "I'm not a big fan of Mitt Romney."

"And to be honest with you, Ron reminds me a lot of Mitt Romney," Trump continued. "So, I don't think you're going to be doing so well here."

In 2020, Trump won the state of Iowa by roughly 8.2 points, according to Politico's tally. And in the fall, Republican incumbent Governor Kim Reynolds—who was endorsed by Trump—beat her Democratic challenger by nearly 20 points.

Earlier Monday, DeSantis responded to some of Trump's recent attacks while speaking to Fox News host Brian Kilmeade, who asked the Florida governor about Trump calling him "a Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush-type of Republican."

"So when you have a record of achievement, people can call you a name, but that's not gonna trump the achievement," DeSantis said in response. "And so we've built an astounding record of achievement, the best is yet to come, we're gonna do a lot more over the next few months, and that's what people look to."

Newsweek has reached out to DeSantis' press team via email for comment.