You can call him DEH-santis or DEE-santis. Ron says: just call me winner.

The Florida governor is defending his curious decision to change how he pronounces his own last name just as he launches his 2024 Republican presidential campaign.

“It’s ridiculous, these stupid things,” DeSantis said Thursday when asked about the issue. “Listen, the way to pronounce my last name: Winner.”

DeSantis has mostly, but not always, used the more well-known “DEH-Santis” during his two decades in politics.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a campaign event in Bluffton, S.C., on Friday, June 2, 2023.

For reasons that remain unclear, the Florida governor started referring to himself as “Ron DEE-Santis” in recent days as he launched his GOP presidential bid. Polls put DeSantis in a strong but distant second place to former President Donald Trump.

Never one to miss out on a chance to ding his opponent, Trump brought up the discrepancy at campaign events in Iowa.

Former President Donald Trump watches the first round of the LIV Golf Tournament at Trump National Golf Club, Friday, May 26, 2023, in Sterling, Va.

Trump used the switch to needle DeSantis, whom he accuses of being a disloyal phony and a Republican in name only.

“He is demanding that people call him DeeeSantis, rather than DaSantis,” Trump said on his social media site. “Actually, I like ‘Da’ better, a nicer flow, so I am happy he is changing it.”

Playing de-fense, DeSantis hit back at Trump, calling him “juvenile” for mentioning the pronunciation issue and suggesting that Trump’s penchant for playground insults was part of the reason he lost the White House in 2020.

“He alienated too many voters for things that really don’t matter,” DeSantis said Thursday at a campaign stop in New Hampshire.

Pundits say DeSantis will have to keep punching back at Trump about matters serious and trivial if he is going to make up ground in the so-far one-sided primary fight.

Trump has built a nearly 2 to 1 lead over DeSantis in polls, a gap that has only gotten wider as the former president has been hit with more legal woes.

DeSantis has maintained a wide lead of his own over the rest of the GOP pack, but that lead for second place is about to get tested as former Vice President Mike Pence and ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are expected to jump into the race next week.

Dave Goldiner

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