McCarthy says DeSantis "not at the same level" as Trump and the Florida governor hits back

"It’s understandable that the DC Establishment doesn’t want me to be president — and I wear that as a badge of honor," the sunshine state leader responded.

GOP heavyweight duel: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy lashed out Sunday at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, saying he is "not at the same level" as former President Donald Trump on national television.

McCarthy, in an interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, predicted that Trump will most likely win the Republican nomination at a time when he is negotiating with GOP hardliners in the House not to shut down the government.

"I think he will be the nominee," McCarthy said. "The thing is, President Trump is stronger today than he was in 2016 or 2020, and there's a reason why. They saw the policies of what he was able to do with America – putting America first, making our economy stronger."

"We didn't have inflation. We didn't have these battles around the world. We didn't look weak around the world," he added.

Bartiromo then noted that Gov. DeSantis was apparently trying to convince some House Republicans to block any spending proposal that doesn't include the political demands of the GOP's hardcore.

"I don't think that would work anywhere. A shutdown would only give strength to the Democrats," McCarthy responded. "It would give the power to Biden. It wouldn't pay our troops. It wouldn't pay our border agents."

"I actually want to achieve something, and this is where President Trump is so smart, that he was successful in this," McCarthy continued. "President Trump is beating Biden right now in the polls. He is stronger than he has ever been in this process, and, look, I served with Ron DeSantis – he's not at the same level as President Trump by any shape or form. He would not have gotten elected without President Trump's endorsement."

McCarthy's words did not go unnoticed by DeSantis, who responded Monday to the congressman through his account in X (formerly Twitter) saying that his attack was a "badge of honor."

"Kevin McCarthy says I’m a little different from Donald Trump. I agree. In Florida, we run budget surpluses. We’ve paid down our debt. I’ve kept every one of my promises. Meanwhile, McCarthy and Trump worked together to add $7 trillion — more debt than our country racked up in its first 200 years — to the debt in just four years," DeSantis responded.

He added, "It’s understandable that the DC Establishment doesn’t want me to be president — and I wear that as a badge of honor"