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Trump Accuses DeSantis Of “Grooming” High School Students With Alcohol

Despite Trump's claims, the photo was taken after DeSantis left the school. 

As Trump attacks DeSantis, Democrats are making gains in Philadelphia.

Former president Donald J. Trump accused Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of partying with high school students while he was a teacher at the Darlington School in Rome, Georgia. 

Trump posted a photo of DeSantis, shown next to three young students, with a meme-style caption: “Here is Ron DeSanctimonious grooming high school girls with alcohol as a teacher.” A vomit emoji followed the text. Trump captioned his repost: “That’s not Ron, is it? He would never do such a thing!”

DeSantis taught history at Darlington, a private K-12 boarding and day school some 65 miles northwest of Atlanta, for a single year from 2001 to 2002 when he was 23. 

The New York Times reported that two students claimed DeSantis attended two high school parties, after his class of students graduated, that were serving alcohol. The timeline indicates that the photo was taken in 2002. 

“Per our records, Ron DeSantis was an employee at Darlington for the 2001-2002 school year. He taught five classes, coached two sports, and did dorm duty,” said Tannika King, director of communications at the Darlington School, to Zenger. “He left Darlington to pursue a law degree. There are no disciplinary actions on record.”

“We respectfully decline any visits or interviews. Our current head of school was not here at that time as were very few of our current employees. Additionally, as a nonprofit, we are prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference to announce the award of $100 million for beach recovery following Hurricanes Ian and Nicole in Daytona Beach Shores in Florida. The funding will support beach projects within 16 coastal counties, with hard-hit Volusia County receiving the largest grant, over $37 million. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In other words, there are no records of any complaints by parents to the school by DeSantis and no record of any investigations. 

Trump’s unproven comments about DeSantis are the latest in a string of attacks against what some see as his biggest political contender. 

Trump formally announced his intent to run for president in 2024 on November 15, 2022, aiming to become the second-ever president elected to two nonconsecutive terms (the first being Grover Cleveland, who won his non-consecutive reelection in 1893.) 

During the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate, Trump insisted that the party should steer clear from nominating “a politician or conventional candidate,” echoing his familiar trope about being an outsider chosen to fix Washington D.C., or “drain the swamp,” as he put it during his first campaign in 2016.  

During a January campaign event in North Carolina, Trump discussed the conversation he had with former South Carolina governor Nikki Hailey when she called to tell him she was considering running for president. Trump urged Hailey to run, in a different tone than his comments about his former ally DeSantis. 

“When I hear that he might [run], I think it’s very disloyal,” said Trump. “He won’t be leading, I got him elected,” he said. “I’m the one that chose him.”

A Club For Growth poll showed DeSantis “emerging as a bigger potential threat to President Joe Biden than former President Donald Trump.” The poll found DeSantis beating Biden by 3 percentage points, compared to Trump losing to Biden by 7 percentage points. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his wife Casey DeSantis celebrate his victory over Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rep. Charlie Crist during an election night watch party at the Tampa Convention Center on November 8, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. DeSantis was the projected winner by a double-digit lead. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

Despite his lead in the hypothetical poll, DeSantis has remained quiet as to whether he is planning to run for president in 2024. Having just won reelection as governor of Florida in 2022, a presidential run would mean leaving his post two years early (Florida law requires elected officials seeking another office to resign from their current position.)

“I spend my time delivering results for the people of Florida and fighting against Joe Biden,” said DeSantis when asked about to Trump’s allegations during a news conference on Wednesday. “I don’t spend my time trying to smear other Republicans.” 

When reaching out to DeSantis’s communication’s director Taryn Fenkse, Zenger was told DeSantis’s communications team was traveling and would respond upon return.  

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