Newly-announced presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis laughed off name-calling from his top rival Donald Trump, saying the former president can call him whatever he likes as long as he ‘calls me winner’.

Fresh off the heels of a glitchy announcement about his bid for the Republican nomination for 2024, Mr DeSantis was asked about Mr Trump’s myriad nicknames for him (which include, but are not limited to, Meatball Ron, Ron DeSanctimonious, Tiny D, and RonDishonest) and laughed them off.

“You can call me whatever you want just make sure you call me a winner because that’s what we’ve done in the state of Florida — and that’s exactly what we would do nationally, not only in the election but actually bringing all these great policies to bear” he said, without mentioning Mr Trump by name, in an interview with Fox News Tonight.

“I can tell you, in Florida we united the Republicans like no one’s ever done – I think I got 98 per cent of Republicans in my re-election.

“There’ll be slings and arrows but I’m a big boy, I can take it,” he added.

“There’s a lot of people that have given a lot more than that so this country can be free – you can see their tombstones in places like Arlington National Cemetary so if the sacrifice I have to make is that people are going to call me names, that pales into comprison with what so many people have done from me throughout history so that .can libve in a free country.”

Mr DeSantis initially sparked the ire of Mr Trump when he refused to refute rumours he was intending to launch a 2024 presidential bid – previously the pair were allies and at one point the former president even suggested the idea of Mr DeSantis as his running mate.

However those days are long past – as rumours of a suspected run began to increase, so too did Mr Trump’s attacvks on his former friend.

“DeSantis got elected because of me. You remember he had nothing. He was dead. He was leaving the race. He came over and he begged me, begged me for an endorsement,” Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in February. “He said, ‘If you endorse me, I’ll win.’ And there were tears coming down from his eyes.”

While polling for Mr Trump shows he remains at the top choice for Republican voters, Mr DeSantis is polling in second place – albeit significantly below Mr Trump.

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