Trump and DeSantis trade barbs as 2024 campaign acrimony grows

(Reuters) – Former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis traded barbs on Thursday over who could most quickly fix the economy and reform government agencies as the battle between the two top Republican contenders became more and more acrimonious.

Trump, who currently holds a wide lead over DeSantis in a distant second in the polls for the 2024 Republican nomination, has also taken critical hits on other candidates lower in the standings, suggesting they quit the party’s primary. .

Trump’s comments were made to Fox News host Sean Hannity at a town hall in Clive, Iowa. Hannity is one of Trump’s strongest media allies, and he set it up to blast opponents, including DeSantis, who he said would slide further in the polls.

“You know, I’m really chasing whoever is second and I think whoever is second has gone down so much and so quickly that I don’t think he’s going to be second any longer. I think he’s going to be third or fourth said Trump.

Earlier Thursday, DeSantis and Trump traded insults over their plans to fix the economy and reform government bureaucracy, with the Florida governor criticizing Trump for not getting the job done during his time in the White House.

“Why didn’t he do it in his first four years?” DeSantis joked to reporters at a campaign event in New Hampshire.

DeSantis argued that it was better for voters to elect someone who could serve two terms — or eight years in office — because that’s how long it would take to successfully complete a task that wasn’t. not fully defined by either candidate.

“If he needs eight years, don’t vote for him. I’ll blow this country up in six months,” retorted Trump, who can only serve one more term.

During the Fox News town hall, Trump was asked how he felt about the growing Republican field, including former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both of whom are expected to enter the race next week.

“I don’t know why people do it. They’re at 1%. Some are at zero,” he said, referring to candidates with low poll numbers.

Remarking on former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, Trump said “nobody knows who he is.”

(Reporting by Nathan Layne, Timothy Reid and Eric Beech; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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