Former President Donald Trump retains a commanding lead in the Republican presidential primary. But Trump on Monday was not above circulating rumors in order to undermine his top rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
On Monday, the former president suggested on Truth Social, his social media platform, that DeSantis was abandoning the presidential contest to challenge incumbent GOP Sen. Rick Scott, who is up for re-election next year.
“Rumors are strong in political circles that Ron DeSanctimonious, whose Presidential run is a shambles, and whose poll numbers have absolutely crashed, putting him 3rd and 4th in some states, will be dropping out of the Presidential race in order to run, in Florida, against Rick Scott for Senate. Now that’s an interesting one, isn’t it?” Trump posted.
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The post received more than 25,000 likes and had nearly 7,000 “retruths.”
But DeSantis’ campaign claimed it was “fake news.”
“This is fake news,” DeSantis spokesman Bryan Griffin said on Twitter in reply to a tweet from conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, who wondered if Trump’s information was “real.”
“Clearly, Donald Trump and his army of consultants are panicked about @RonDeSantis’ winning debate performance and the strong momentum that has followed. They know this is a two-man race, and we will carry this on to a win in this presidential primary.”
“Instead of pushing fake news from New Jersey, the Trump campaign should be focused on getting their candidate on the campaign trail in Iowa and on the debate stage before it’s too late,” Griffin added.
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A group of nearly 800 GOP voters named DeSantis the clear winner of last week’s first debate, which Trump skipped.
The Florida governor also became the first choice over Trump among those voters when they were asked whom they were considering voting for in the primaries.
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