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Gov. Ron DeSantis responds to Trump's attack that he is guilty of 'grooming high school girls'

Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) made it clear on Wednesday he is not interested in attacking his fellow Republicans.

The comments came in response to a reporter who asked DeSantis about former President Donald Trump's latest attack against him, in which Trump accused DeSantis of once "grooming high school girls."

What did DeSantis say?

DeSantis did not mention Trump by name. But he took an implicit shot at Trump by telling the media he is not interested in smearing other Republicans — unlike Trump.

"I spend my time delivering results for the people of Florida and fighting against Joe Biden. That's how I spend my time," DeSantis said Wednesday. "I don't spend my time trying to smear other Republicans."

The remarks prompted a loud applause from the crowd.

What prompted the response was a question from a reporter who connected Trump's baseless attack to a defamation panel that DeSantis hosted this week. He is advocating for legislation that protects "Floridians from the life-altering ramifications that defamation from the media can cause for a person who does not have the means or the platform to defend himself."

It was in that vein that DeSantis said, "I face defamatory stuff every single day I’ve been governor, that’s just the nature of it."

"It just goes with the territory. You gotta have a thick skin," he said.

What is the background?

While DeSantis has not announced a campaign for president, Trump has increasingly attacked the Florida governor because he knows that DeSantis is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. Polls repeatedly show DeSantis' primary and general election popularity.

But DeSantis has refused to engage in return attacks.

Instead, when reporters ask DeSantis about Trump's attacks, he reminds them that he, not Trump, wins elections — and by significant margins.

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