The 45th President of the United States responded to the “Fake News” that he had called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis “Meatball Ron” with a post on Truth Social Saturday stating “it would be totally inappropriate to use the word ‘meatball’ as a moniker for Ron!”
In his post, Trump repeated the word “meatball” twice and reminded readers of other – authorized – monikers he has conceived for Ron DeSanctimonius, Lightweight Paul Ryan, and Low Energy Jeb Bush.
The tone of Trump’s post is playful, and a reminder of his presence on Twitter where he excelled in stirring up controversies and tidal waves of outrage. It is almost as if he is repeating what the teacher told him to say with a wink to the class.
Multiple national media outlets have tried to stir up the “meatball” Ron story all week. The Daily Beast’s resident Republican Matt Lewis suggested two possible motives for the nickname Trump was rumored to have used behind closed doors to describe DeSantis. Either it could be a reference to his burly stature, or his Italian-American heritage – which many would consider a slight.
Trump has used other nicknames for DeSantis in the past, including “Shutdown Ron,” in reference to Florida’s brief public closures after the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Overall, Florida was widely seen as one of the more open states throughout the pandemic, making such a put-down harder to stick.
DeSantis is attracting Trump’s attention, in part, because of recent polling that has showed the popular red state governor at the head of the pack of potential presidential contenders for the GOP nomination. S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, who joined the race last week, has taken a few indirect shots at DeSantis since announcing, as has Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu has also indirectly criticized DeSantis for his confrontation with Disney.
For his part, DeSantis has invoked Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment (“Thou shalt not speak ill of thy fellow Republican”) and said he is not going to get into name-calling contests with fellow partisans.
With such goading, we’ll see how long that lasts.