- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Former President Donald Trump used a stop in Iowa to bash Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, characterizing his chief rival for the GOP presidential nomination as an enemy of Iowa ethanol and a threat to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

Mr. Trump said Monday he will protect Iowa farmers and their ethanol, a renewable fuel made from corn and other plant materials, “from anyone who wishes to destroy it.”

The ex-president said Mr. DeSantis, who he is calling “DeSanctimonious,” voted to restructure ethanol subsidies during his time in Congress and was too quick to support former Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed changes to Medicare and Social Security.

“You have to remember, Ron was a disciple of Paul Ryan, who is a RINO loser who currently is destroying Fox and would constantly vote against entitlements,” Mr. Trump said, referring to Fox News and using the acronym for “Republican In Name Only.”

Mr. DeSantis, who is expected to announce a presidential bid this year, has assured the public that Republicans won’t mess with Social Security.

By and large, the governor is avoiding open combat with Mr. Trump as he plots his 2024 path.

Mr. DeSantis has alluded to Mr. Trump’s troubles, however. The governor said his own administration manages to avoid leaks and other palace intrigues, and he pointed to his easy reelection in November. Many of Mr. Trump’s hand-picked candidates fell short in the midterm cycle.

Many polls show Mr. Trump with front-runner status in the still-forming GOP field, though Republicans consistently point to Mr. DeSantis as the other top choice.

The room in Davenport, Iowa, was relatively quiet during Mr. Trump’s attacks on Mr. DeSantis, according to NBC News, a hint that some Republicans would rather focus their attacks on President Biden than on each other.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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