Footage from the tournament shared on Twitter by lawyer Ron Filipkowski shows Mr DeSantis walking through the crowd at the event when someone can be heard yelling “Tiny D!” from off-camera.
“Wait, is this a Trump fan yelling, ‘Tiny D’ at Ron Desantis yesterday at the golf tournament? I think it is …” Mr Filipkowski tweeted.
The former Republican served on the 12th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission in Florida and was reappointed by Mr DeSantis in 2019 before leaving the role, according to the Sarasota Magazine.
“It was great to watch the best of the best in professional golf at The Players Championship in Jacksonville with First Lady @CaseyDeSantis, Madison and Mason. Florida is the golfing capital of the world and we’re proud of it!” Mr DeSantis tweeted on Sunday.
Mr Trump has tried out nicknames for his prospective opponent, calling him “Ron DeSanctimonius” and he was reportedly considering the more straightforward “Meatball Ron”.
The New York Times reported last month Mr Trump has insulted the governor in “casual conversations,” calling him “Meatball Ron,” which the paper called “an apparent dig at his appearance”.
On Monday, Politico reported that Mr Trump has chosen not to use “Meatball Ron,” saying it was “too crude”.
Wait, is this a Trump fan yelling, “Tiny D” at Ron Desantis yesterday at the golf tournament? I think it is … pic.twitter.com/9HNClSwPng
— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) March 13, 2023
Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that Trump allies say the ex-president appears set on using “Ron DeSanctimonious,” even as some in his circle don’t think it’s a jackpot.
Other options being considered include “Ron DisHonest,” “Ron DeEstablishment,” and the epithet hurled at the governor on the golf course – “Tiny D”.
It was great to watch the best of the best in professional golf at The Players Championship in Jacksonville with First Lady @CaseyDeSantis, Madison and Mason.
Florida is the golfing capital of the world and we’re proud of it! pic.twitter.com/rBSkuh5Z2e
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 12, 2023
The Trump team has been doing opposition research on Mr DeSantis, including his time as governor, his wife Casey DeSantis – a former TV reporter, the year he spent as a boarding school teacher in Georgia, and his record while he was a congressman, such as his supporting for increasing the retirement age and in part making Medicare private, which was part of the budget plan when former Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan served as Speaker of the House.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mr Trump shared a video of Mr DeSantis as he was about to speak in Iowa when an organizer carried the podium away from the stage.
“Who took the podium? How cool!” Mr Trump wrote.
On Monday afternoon, Mr Trump told reporters on his plane set for Iowa that Mr DeSantis would never have won the governor’s race in 2018 without his support. Mr DeSantis spoke in the state on Friday.
“He was dead as a dog, he was a dead politician. He would have been working perhaps for a law firm or doing something else,” Mr Trump told the press, according to Politico.
He was then asked if regretted endorsing Mr DeSantis in 2018.
“Yeah maybe, this guy was dead. He was dead as a doornail. … I might say that,” he said.
Mr Trump claimed that Mr DeSantis was pleading for his support in 2018 when he was behind in the GOP gubernatorial primary.
“I said ‘You are so dead right now you are not going, no endorsement is going to save you. George Washington won’t save you.’ He said, ‘I’m telling you, if you endorse me, I have a chance,’” Mr Trump said.
He said Mr DeSantis “probably” is his main rival in the 2024 race.
On the flight back from Iowa on Monday night, Mr Trump called Mr DeSantis a flip-flopper, slammed his debate performances, and compared him to establishment Republicans such as Mr Ryan and Utah Senator Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee.
“Remember this – If it weren’t for me, Ron DeSanctimonious would right now be working probably at a law firm, or maybe a Pizza Hut, I don’t know,” Mr Trump said, according to Politico.
The governor has mostly avoided directly attacking Mr Trump. He has said that he doesn’t want to spend any time “trying to smear other Republicans”.
Allies of the governor argued to Bloomberg earlier this month that his relatively young age, 44, and focus on his record as governor will help him resist attacks from the former president.
Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told the outlet that “you don’t have to define President Trump. Everyone has made up their mind. I don’t think Ron DeSantis saying anything negative about Donald Trump will change anyone’s mind”.
“The ‘high road’ strategy is the best chance, and it is what you got,” he added. “All of the Republican candidates will all have the same message – We can do the Trump policies without the Trump baggage.”