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Trump denies spending time coming up with DeSantis nickname after New York Times reports ‘Meatball Ron’ dig

Former President Trump appeared to shoot down a New York Times report that he has workshopped “Meatball Ron” as a disparaging nickname for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Former President Trump appeared to shoot down a New York Times report Monday that he has workshopped "Meatball Ron" as a disparaging nickname for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

Trump, who famously dubbed political rivals with unflattering nicknames such as "Little Marco" and "Lying Ted," has started to criticize publicly DeSantis, who is expected by many to run for president in 2024. Trump has already announced his candidacy.

New York Times reporters Michael Bender and Maggie Haberman reported Trump has used insults in addition to the "Ron DeSanctimonious" moniker he previously unveiled. 

TRUMP, BIDEN, TURN UP THE VOLUME ON DESANTIS AS FLORIDA GOVERNOR’S 2024 STATURE RISES

"[Trump] has insulted Mr. DeSantis in casual conversations, describing him as ‘Meatball Ron,’ an apparent dig at his appearance, or ‘Shutdown Ron,’ a reference to restrictions the governor put in place at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic," Bender and Haberman reported. 

"I happen to like Meatballs. But this will turn off a lot of conservative voters. Not a wise move if true. I hope it’s not," Fox News host Mark Levin tweeted in response to the report. 

Trump took to his Truth Social media platform and insisted he isn’t focused on coming up with a nickname for the Florida governor. 

"All of the Fake News is reporting that I spend large amounts of my time coming up with a good ‘nickname’ for Ron DeSanctimonious, who is obviously going to give the presidential ‘thing’ a shot," Trump wrote. "They are all 100% wrong, I don’t even think about it — A very unimportant subject to me!!!"

DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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Former South Carolina governor and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley announced Tuesday that she is also running for president.

DeSantis is widely expected to enter the race at some point. For over a year, he routinely dismissed talk of a White House run as he focused on his gubernatorial re-election, but he’s dropped plenty of 2024 hints since his landslide November victory.

TRUMP TAKES AIM AT POTENTIAL 2024 GOP RIVALS, SAYING HE DOESN'T HAVE MUCH ‘COMPETITION

The former president last week twice reposted and commented on social media posts that accused DeSantis of "grooming" underage girls during his brief tenure years ago as a high school teacher. 

The jabs from Trump drew a rare response from DeSantis, who said at a Wednesday news conference that "I don’t spend my time trying to smear other Republicans."

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report. 

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