Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday hit back after former President Donald Trump spent several days trashing him for being “disloyal” and too liberal on COVID and vaccine policies.

In a sign the two Republican rivals could be headed for open political warfare, DeSantis dismissed Trump’s attacks as no different from any other political potshots and said Florida voters gave him a decisive thumbs up on his handling of the pandemic.

“I roll out of bed, I have people attacking me from all angles,” he said. “It’s been happening for many, many years.”

DeSantis did not mention Trump by name. But he made it crystal clear that he will not take Trump’s attacks on his record lying down.

“When you’re an elected executive, you have to make all kinds of decisions, you got to steer that ship,” DeSantis said at a press conference on higher education. “And the good thing is, is that the people are able to render a judgment on that — whether they reelect you or not.”

He boasted of demolishing the Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections, leading a historic landslide that has cemented the Sunshine State’s status as a Republican stronghold.

“We won with the highest percentage of the vote that any Republican governor candidate has in the history of the state of Florida,” DeSantis added. “We won by the largest raw vote margin — over 1.5 million votes — than any governor candidate has ever had in Florida history.”

Trump is still the only announced Republican 2024 presidential candidate but DeSantis is widely viewed as his most potent potential challenger.

Trump took the gloves off in what he sees as a looming battle with DeSantis in his first campaign swing to early voting states of New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Deriding his rival as “Ron DeSanctimonious,” Trump said DeSantis is “disloyal” for considering a 2024 run against him.

He also blamed DeSantis for initially implementing some COVID-related restrictions in the early days of the pandemic and for being too pro-vaccine.

It’s a curious attack line because DeSantis quickly reopened Florida’s tourism-dependent economy and has become one of the most staunch opponents of lockdowns.

The Florida governor has also courted far right wing anti-vaxxers by empaneling a grand jury to investigate supposed crimes tied to the COVID vaccines, which have saved millions of lives worldwide and in the U.S.

Trump, on the other hand, was a strong champion of the vaccines and once boasted that he ended the pandemic with his Operation Warp Speed vaccine development program.

©2023 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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