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Former President Donald Trump said early Saturday that he will not refer to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) as “Meatball Ron,” despite allegations that he used the disparaging moniker privately.

“I will never refer to Ron DeSanctimonious as ‘Meatball’ Ron, as the Fake News insists,” he said on the conservative social networking site Truth Social.

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“Meatball Ron,” as Trump has allegedly dubbed the governor in casual talks, appears to be a dig at DeSantis’ appearance and Italian origin, according to The New York Times.

Yet, dismissing the nickname did not prevent the former president from blasting DeSantis’ stint as governor, as he is allowed to do, as a potential presidential primary contest looms.

According to the Times, Trump has also referred to DeSantis as “Shutdown Ron” in reference to his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is very close to fact.

“His beaches and State Department were closed for lengthy periods of time, his testing, testing, testing for the China Virus didn’t go so well, and his loyalty skills are pretty weak,” Trump wrote on Saturday.

DeSantis is widely seen as the primary contender to Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. While DeSantis has not yet announced whether he would officially enter the campaign, polls show him and Trump competing closely.

Trump has launched several attacks on Florida Governor Rick Scott in recent months. Earlier this month, the former president endorsed a social media post suggesting DeSantis was “grooming high school girls with booze” while working as a teacher in his twenties. This comes after accusations that he partied with former students at a private Georgia school 20 years ago.

Trump’s posts, according to DeSantis, are a slander. Trump declared his candidacy for a second term in November and has frequently referred to DeSantis as “Ron DeSanctimonious.” Trump is well-known for using pejorative nicknames for his political opponents.

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