Ron DeSantis Claims 'Fabricated Media Narrative' of Tension with Trump, Says He's Focused on Reelection

"Governor DeSantis remains focused on Florida and works every day to earn Floridians' support for reelection in November," his spokeswoman said among reports of a rift with the former president

Rift Between Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump Spills Into Public View
Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty; Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is swatting away new reports about tensions between him and former President Donald Trump in the long wind-up to the 2024 election that may feature them both.

Sources speaking to The New York Times in a story published Sunday claimed that Trump, 75, has privately questioned why DeSantis, 43, won't rule out running against him for president in 2024.

While Trump himself has not confirmed whether or not he will enter the race, he is widely believed to be preparing a possible campaign (and has repeatedly teased as much). As such, the Times' sources said, he still wants to hear "the magic words" from DeSantis, another popular Republican: that the latter won't run against him.

Though the two have been close allies since Trump was in office, recent reports by the Times and other outlets suggest a growing rift leading into the next election cycle.

Not so, DeSantis' office said this week.

"It's not a coincidence that this fabricated media narrative emerged during the worst week of Biden's presidency to date, as it became clear Biden would not be able to deliver on Build Back Better, enact sweeping legislation to federalize elections, or 'shut down the virus' as he had promised during his campaign," a spokeswoman for DeSantis said in a statement to PEOPLE, referring instead to stories about President Joe Biden's administration.

"Governor DeSantis remains focused on Florida and works every day to earn Floridians' support for reelection in November of this year," the spokeswoman said.

The Florida governor, who was narrowly elected in 2018 and who has drawn both praise and backlash for his approach to the pandemic, is eyed by many as a contender for higher office. But — like Trump — he's demurred when asked whether he plans to run for president in 2024.

In September, DeSantis told reporters that a White House bid was not on his radar. "I just do my job and we work hard … I hear all this stuff and honestly it's nonsense," he said.

DeSantis has also said he doesn't pay much attention to discussions of any sort of dispute between him and Trump, saying on a podcast recently that such reports were just "what the media does."

"You cannot fall for the bait ... you know what they're trying to do, so just don't take it," DeSantis said. "Just keep on keeping on. We need everybody united for a big red wave in 2022."

Trump has seemingly offered digs at DeSantis, however.

Last week, Trump criticized politicians — without naming anyone specifically — who don't admit to getting their COVID-19 boosters, calling them "gutless."

"I've had the booster. ... I watched a couple of politicians be interviewed and one of the questions was, 'Did you get the booster?' — because they had the vaccine — and they're answering like, in other words, the answer is 'yes' but they don't want to say it," Trump said in an interview with far-right network One America News. "Because they're gutless."

DeSantis — whose office confirmed to the Associated Press he was first vaccinated back in April — is among those to offer vague responses when asked if he's had the booster shot.

COVID vaccines have become increasingly politicized among Republican voters.

"So, I've done whatever I did," DeSantis said when asked by reporters last month whether he had been boosted. "The normal shot."

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