Trump and DeSantis head into 2024 – but keep their distance in Florida

“They didn’t invite Ron, which I think is stupid,” said one of the Republican consultants with knowledge of the rally’s planning. “Why not try to avoid the appearance of the fight?” But in their defense, I don’t know if he would have come even if he had been invited.

Outgoing Florida GOP Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who is one of Trump’s most vocal supporters in the Florida Legislature, said the former president’s team was handling the rally “appropriately.” and was simply trying to help Rubio, who is facing the rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) in his bid for a third term. Most polls show Rubio well ahead of Demings. Other top Republicans who will be in attendance include the senator. Rick Scott (R-Fla.).

“He can do whatever he wants, but the Trump team created DeSantis,” Sabatini said of the governor. “He would have lost [in 2018] 10, 20, maybe 30 points without Trump’s approval.

“He definitely owes her. Great moment,” he added.

Both sides have publicly downplayed any conflict between Trump and DeSantis, but interviews with nine GOP consultants, advisers and party officials indicate that hostilities between the two potential 2024 adversaries persist. However, any behind-the-scenes friction could come to light in a matter of weeks if Trump announces he is running for president in 2024, as it is widely expected TO DO. Several were granted anonymity so they could speak freely about the dynamics.

“Trump can’t help himself and Ron knows that. So I think what you’ve seen is he’s strategically taking hits without taking direct hits at Trump,” said a former member of the DeSantis campaign staff “Ron is very smart, whatever he does he will be calculated and diligent about it.”

As the 2022 midterm elections draw to a close and the next presidential election cycle begins, Trump and DeSantis lead the GOP group of likely presidential hopefuls, a group that includes former Vice President Mike Pence. , Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, former US Ambassador to the United States. Nations Nikki Haley and others.

Asset polls consistently ahead of DeSantis and has a fervent following among conservatives, but DeSantis is often hailed by the GOP as a more disciplined, less chaotic leader who has garnered national attention for his fights against Covid-19 mandates.

DeSantis, who carried Trump’s endorsement to his governor’s mansion in 2018, is likely to be re-elected easily and will sit on nearly $100 million after the midterms as his national profile continues to grow. Few expect him to be deterred if Trump runs in 2024.

Republican political advisers and consultants close to Trump say DeSantis is jealous that the former president remains the titular leader of the national Republican Party.

“DeSantis is still looking for Trump’s affection in a lot of ways, and I think they get upset that they’re not invited shows what a force Trump is during the midterm elections,” a person familiar with said. Trump. “Even with a candidate who looks to be winning, are they upset that they weren’t invited to the rally?”

The person said they thought it was “over the top” and more “hand-to-hand combat” than any direct animosity between the two.

There have been increasingly open feuds between the men in recent months, however, many of which have been instigated by the Trump world.

A day after DeSantis’ debate against Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, Trump posted a clip on Truth Social, his former social media platform. Fox News host Megyn Kelly saying the Florida governor ‘can’t defeat’ Trump in a GOP primary. DeSantis also recently endorsed Colorado GOP Senate nominee Joe O’Dea, a move Trump called a “big mistake” after accusing O’Dea of ​​holding moderate positions.

At the end of September, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kusher criticized flights funded by DeSantis sending Venezuelan asylum seekers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, arguing that the Governor of Florida was using them as “political pawns”.

Trump “is Dr. Frankenstein coming to Florida to try and kill the monster that’s gotten out of hand,” said a Florida GOP strategist in the governor’s orbit. “It’s a struggle for control. I think that he [Trump] chose his enemy. In his mind, they race against each other.

But a person close to DeSantis’ campaign said the Florida governor’s staff planned the 13 rallies more than a month ago – long before Trump announced his Miami event. DeSantis’ campaign, the person added, didn’t take it as a snub and called it “Trump makes Trump and DeSantis makes DeSantis.”

Another Florida Republican with ties to DeSantis even warned of the risks the Florida governor would face if he attended Trump’s rally, saying the ex-president’s off-the-cuff remarks could put DeSantis in a position delicate.

“It’s a dangerous place. If he [Trump] comes out of the script and says something like “Can you believe this guy hasn’t approved of me yet” on stage, that’s a bad place for Ron. Something he would like to avoid,” the person said.

Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich, however, said Trump had “reshaped Florida’s electoral politics” and made it traditional Democratic strongholds like Miami turn Republican.

The Miami event puts some of the state’s other prominent Republicans in a difficult position to choose between Trump or DeSantis events on Sunday.

Among the statewide Republicans running for re-election are Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, while Senate Speaker Wilton Simpson is running for agriculture commissioner. Each was supposed to easily overcome Democratic challenges, but now they have to navigate between Trump and DeSantis, who are both politicians with a well-worn reputation for grudges. Simpson, for example, attends the Trump rally.

A press release announcing the DeSantis campaign’s final 13-city tour, which begins Friday, said “special guests” will include Moody, Patronis and Simpson, but did not specify which events they will attend.

representing Matt Gaetzwho helped lead DeSantis’ 2018 campaign but is speaking at the Trump and Rubio rally in Miami, said he doesn’t think DeSantis or Trump care about other elected Florida Republicans statewide.

“I don’t think boxers care about the undercard,” he said.

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