In a radio interview on Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida chastised former President Donald J. Trump for planning to skip a gathering of presidential candidates in Iowa this weekend, as well as for not committing to a Republican Party debate next month.
“Nobody is entitled to this nomination,” Mr. DeSantis told the conservative radio host Howie Carr. “You have got to earn the nomination.”
He added, “I’ll be at all the debates because the American people deserve to hear from us directly about our vision for the country and about how we’re going to be able to beat Joe Biden.”
Mr. DeSantis’s comments were a sign that he is continuing to step up his criticisms of Mr. Trump, his main rival for the Republican nomination, who has maintained a sizable lead over the governor in national polling. As the race shifts into a higher gear, the candidates seeking to unseat Mr. Trump as the front-runner will hope for as many chances as possible to draw contrasts with him, especially at debates and forums.
So far, Mr. Trump has not committed to participating in an Aug. 23 debate in Milwaukee for Republican candidates. His advisers have said he is unlikely to do so, both because of his commanding lead in the polls and because of his hostile relationship with Fox News, which is hosting the debate.
And Mr. Trump has also decided not to attend the Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines this weekend, which will feature appearances by Mr. DeSantis, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, former Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, former Vice President Mike Pence and other 2024 hopefuls. The event is organized by influential leaders among the state’s evangelical Christians, who are a key voting bloc in the Republican caucuses.
Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, dismissed Mr. DeSantis’s criticisms, accusing him of “throwing a temper tantrum because he is losing so badly.”
“DeSantis should focus on his own flailing campaign,” Mr. Cheung said in a statement. He added that Mr. Trump “holds a commanding lead because voters know he is the only person who can beat Joe Biden and take the White House back.”
Winning the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 15 is a crucial part of Mr. DeSantis’s strategy. He has moved to Mr. Trump’s right on social issues like gay rights and abortion, in a potential attempt to connect with evangelical voters there.
In recent days, Mr. DeSantis’s campaign has sought to highlight Mr. Trump’s absence in Iowa, as well as the former president’s social media sniping at Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is popular with conservatives in the state.
In his radio interview on Wednesday, Mr. DeSantis also criticized Mr. Trump for “failing to deliver” on his 2016 campaign promises of “draining the swamp” and building a wall at the southern border. And he said that two of Mr. Trump’s policy proposals for 2024 — building futuristic new cities on federal land and allowing parents to directly elect public school principals — were “not good ideas.”
“Every candidate needs to be put to the test,” Mr. DeSantis said, “and I think he needs to step up and do it.”