Trump rips Ron DeSantis in Iowa as the 2024 presidential race heats up

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Taking aim at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Monday, former President Donald Trump told the crowd at a jam-packed rally here that he will "protect Iowa ethanol from anyone who wishes to destroy it."

DeSantis, who made his first visit to the state as a prospective presidential candidate Friday, often voted as a member of Congress to restructure or slash subsidies for agricultural products, including ethanol.

Using nicknames — "DeSanctis" and "DeSanctimonious" — Trump said DeSantis "fought against it at every turn, and he’s going to do that again." Trump also told his audience that DeSantis reminded him of 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who lost the presidential race and is now a senator from Utah.

But Trump was met with relative silence from an otherwise raucous crowd when he unleashed his barrage against DeSantis, which included barbs about votes that would have reduced benefits for recipients of Medicare and Social Security.

That may reflect an uneasiness among Iowa GOP voters — even some of Trump's most ardent supporters — with Republican-on-Republican political violence at a time when a Democrat, President Joe Biden, occupies the White House.