There continues to be no love lost between Gov Ron DeSantis and members of former president Donald Trump’s inner circle.
Mr DeSantis and Mr Trump and their intermediaries have been sparring for months — and that didn’t change in the aftermath of Wednesday night’s Republican primary debate when Mr Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr, took to social media to lambast the Florida governor.
Mr Trump focused on a moment during the debate when Fox News moderator Bret Baier asked the candidates to raise their hands if they would still support the former president as the party’s nominee if he were convicted of a crime.
Mr DeSantis, standing in the middle of the debate stage with Mr Trump absent, appeared to glance around at his fellow competitors before ultimately raising his hand —not high, but just to the level of his shoulder.
“Brutal!” Mr Trump wrote in a post on Instagram. “Easiest question of the night but when you don’t have your billionaire donors on the stage with you I guess you have to look around to see which way to go.”
Mr Trump was not the only person to pick up on Mr DeSantis’ apparent indecision when asked if he would support the former president as his party’s presidential nominee in the case of a conviction. A number of debate-watchers and observers on social media highlighted the moment as well.
Mr DeSantis’ body language made headlines at the start of the debate as well, when he smiled awkwardly after completing a statement.
The Florida governor, who is trailing Mr Trump by as many as 40 points in some national polls, also told an odd story about a woman in Florida who was discovered in a “pan” after allegedly having survived multiple abortion attempts.
But while Mr DeSantis endured more challenging moments on the debate stage, it was not an altogether blemish-free night for the younger Mr Trump either. According to reporting in the New York Post, Mr Trump and his wife Kimberly Guilfoyle were blocked from entering the debate spin room in Milwaukee.
“I’d been told by others that I would be able to go in,” Mr Trump reportedly told reporters after he was barred from the spin room. “Fox won’t let me into the spin room. They’re telling him — he works for security here — but they’re telling him that I’m not allowed to go in there.”
The elder Mr Trump has bigger troubles on his plate: he will surrender Thursday evening to law enforcement officials in Georgia, where he faces criminal charges over his alleged attempt to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election.