Donald Trump suggests Ron DeSantis was 'grooming high school girls with alcohol,' causing governor to respond

'I don't spend my time trying to smear other Republicans,' DeSantis says of Trump's Truth Social post
Ron DeSantis Donald Trump, 2023 split screen possible political adversaries
Posted at 11:52 AM, Feb 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-08 17:17:41-05

OCALA, Fla. — Florida's governor on Wednesday fired back at former President Donald Trump after he took to social media, suggesting that Ron DeSantis was "grooming high school girls with alcohol" when he was a teacher.

Trump on Tuesday reposted a photo on the social media app, Truth Social, showing what appeared to be a younger DeSantis smiling alongside three women, whose faces were blurred.

Bold text on the photo read, "Here is Ron DeSantimonious grooming high school girls with alcohol as a teacher," followed by a vomit emoji.

"That’s not Ron, is it? He would never do such a thing!" Trump sarcastically wrote on the post.

The photo was initially posted by a Truth Social user named Dong-Chan Lee, whose account describes him as a "staunch paleoconservative who has been supporting President Donald J. Trump since 2016."

"I've faced defamatory stuff every single day I've been governor. That's just the nature of it," DeSantis responded Wednesday when asked about Trump's post during a news conference in Ocala. "It just goes with the territory. You gotta have a thick skin."

WATCH: Gov. DeSantis responds to Trump social media post

Gov. Ron DeSantis responds to Trump Truth Social post

This is the latest political attack Trump has launched at DeSantis.

Shortly after DeSantis defeated Democratic challenger Charlie Crist in last November's general election, Trump released a lengthy statement, calling DeSantis an "average" governor, and taking credit for bolstering the Republican's image.

"Ron DeSanctimonious is playing games!" Trump wrote. "The Fake News asks him if he's going to run if President Trump runs, and he says, 'I'm only focused on the Governor's race, I'm not looking into the future.' Well, in terms of loyalty and class, that's really not the right answer."

Trump, a Republican, has announced his candidacy for president in 2024, while DeSantis has not said if he's running, despite much speculation that the two-term governor will make a bid for the White House.

Ron DeSantis with President Donald Trump at rally in Pensacola, Nov. 3, 2018
President Donald Trump stands behind Ron DeSantis, candidate for Florida governor, as he speaks at a rally, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in Pensacola, Fla.

"I spend my time delivering results for the people of Florida and fighting against Joe Biden. That's how I spend my time," DeSantis said Wednesday. "I don't spend my time trying to smear other Republicans."

According to a report from The New York Times in November, the photo from Trump's Truth Social post was taken after the 2001-02 academic year when DeSantis was a teacher at the Darlington School, a private day and boarding school in Georgia.

Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women but has repeatedly denied the allegations.

WPTV's Michael Williams showed the social media post to people in downtown West Palm Beach.

WATCH: Michael Williams asks Republicans what they think

Michael Williams asks Republicans what they think of latest DeSantis-Trump feud

David and Holly Heibert told him they are Republicans.

"Current facts and where we are today, I don't really care about what happened 20 years ago," David Heibert said.

Added Holly Heibert: "I'd hate to be judged for what I did in college."

Another woman, who lives in New Jersey and identified herself only as Maureen, is also a Republican.

"I don't think it hurts DeSantis," she said.

What about Trump, Williams asked.

"I think he's kind of showing his own colors," she replied.

Williams also talked with WPTV political analyst Brian Crowley.

"If I were the governor, I would give one quick statement about the circumstances of the photograph, which presumably he would view as harmless, and then that would be the end of it," Crowley said.

The DeSantis-Trump fight is only just beginning as one man seeks the White House for the second time and the other rising political figure — his presidential bid yet to be announced — looms large on the horizon.