GOP 2024 hopefuls ramp up attacks on Trump and DeSantis
SUNRISE, FLORIDA - Donald Trump introduces Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during a homecoming campaign rally at the BB&T; Center on November 26, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

As former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — the latter of whom has not even formally declared his candidacy yet — increasingly duke it out for the 2024 presidential nomination, Republican candidates on the lower rungs are fighting to break through. And they are now gearing up to attack the two frontrunners themselves, POLITICO reported on Wednesday.

"Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and former Vice President Mike Pence have begun more aggressively criticizing positions held by Trump, and now DeSantis, on a range of foreign and domestic issues," reported Natalie Allison and Adam Wren. "They have been aided, their respective teams believe, by DeSantis’ decision to leave little daylight between himself and Trump on key topics, from the war in Ukraine to entitlement reform."

"'Ron DeSantis is copying Donald Trump on Ukraine, entitlement reform, and who knows what’s next?' Haley adviser Nachama Soloveichik said in a statement to POLITICO, describing the former South Carolina governor as 'a leader on these serious issues facing our country’s future' who 'will continue to note her differences with both Republicans and Democrats who want to bury their heads in the sand,'" said the report. "'Republicans deserve a choice, not a copycat,' Soloveichik said."

Pence, meanwhile, has attacked both Trump and DeSantis for staking out absolutist positions on protecting entitlement programs, saying at a speech at Washington & Lee University that he cannot “endorse voices in our party today that simply want to walk past the problem of national debt by pledging to never touch Social Security and Medicare.”

For their parts, the erstwhile allies Trump and DeSantis, who commandingly outstrip everyone else in recent polling, have ramped up rhetoric against each other.

Earlier this week, DeSantis took a potshot at Trump for his legal trouble over a $130,000 hush payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Trump, meanwhile, attacked DeSantis in a new statement today accusing him of being a merely "average governor" who is mismanaging the state of Florida.

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