In a taste of a potential showdown in the Republican presidential primary, donald trump and Ron DeSantis will hold dueling rallies in Florida on Sunday as the pair fight for Sunshine State supremacy and the heart of the GOP.
The former president will welcome his supporters to Miami, the third leg of a four-city tour that has effectively made Trump a prominent player in his party’s fight for control of Congress. Meanwhile, Florida’s governor will headline his own events in three counties on the state’s opposite coast – Hillsborough, Sarasota and Lee – narrowly avoiding Trump as he seeks to wind down his bid for a second term. .
For the past two years, Trump and DeSantis have coexisted on opposite ends of Florida – with Trump planning his next move from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach and DeSantis building a household name in the state capitol. in Tallahassee. But as those mid-terms draw to a close and a decision looms over their political future, even on a 450-mile-long peninsula, it has become increasingly difficult for the two to avoid each other.
“We have two very stubborn, very Type-A politicians in Florida who are at the tip of the GOP spear,” said a Republican official who asked not to be named. “They both get attention, but they both have their own political operations and that’s what you see. It’s already exhausting to talk about.
The long simmer rivalry has spilled into public view in the final weeks leading up to Election Day. At a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, Trump hit out at DeSantis directly and coined a new nickname for the governor, while declaring himself the frontrunner in a hypothetical GOP primary.
“That’s it, Trump at 71 (percent), Ron DeSanctimonious at 10 percent,” Trump told the crowd as he read the alleged poll numbers on a screen.
DeSantis recently endorsed Republican businessman and Colorado Senate candidate Joe O’Dea, as O’Dea pledged in October to “actively campaign” against Trump.
“A BIG MISTAKE!” Trump wrote in response on his Truth Social platform.
Trump went on to share a clip of former Fox News host Megyn Kelly predicting that GOP voters would stay firmly on Trump’s side should DeSantis decide to challenge the former president in a Republican presidential primary. CNN reported Friday that Trump may launch his next presidential candidacy from this month.
But the planning of competing events in Florida two days before a momentous election day particularly illustrates how strained the relationship between the former allies has become. Unlike other potential 2024 contenders, DeSantis did not decline to run against Trump in a primary, much to Trump’s chagrin. DeSantis, meanwhile, believes such a concession would undermine his attempts to stay focused on his current re-election race instead of what may lie ahead, CNN previously reported. DeSantis and his campaign declined to publicly discuss his post-midterm plans, but in a recent debatehe did not respond when asked if he intended to serve a four-year term if re-elected.
If they face each other in a primary, the two candidates could find themselves in a similar financial situation. DeSantis raised $200 million that campaign runs through its two political committees and has spent just over half, leaving about $90 million in potential start-up capital for a Super PAC. At the end of October, Trump was sitting on about $117 million between his three active fundraising vehicles, according to federal election data.
of trump pre-election trip is motivated at least in part by his desire to launch a third campaign for the White House, CNN reported this week. Indeed, during a visit to Iowa on Thursday, Trump told voters in the nation’s first caucus state to “prepare” for his return as presidential candidate. Trump stopped in Pennsylvania on Saturday – home of the tight Senate race between his endorsement, Republican Mehmet Oz, and Democrat John Fetterman – and he will spend the day before the election in Ohio, where the former president endorsed Republican JD Vance in the Senate race against the Democrat. Tim Ryan.
But planning a rally in Florida was also widely seen as a jab at DeSantis’ front. Trump first announced plans last week to hold a rally for U.S. Senator Marco Rubio in South Florida, leaving DeSantis noticeably out of his plans. Since then, the list of guest speakers has grown to include young state senator Rick Scott, as well as a dozen other elected officials and candidates from across the state.
The decision to hold the rally in Miami-Dade County comes as Republicans are optimistic they will carry the former Democratic stronghold for the first time in two decades. Republican investments in making inroads into the region’s Hispanic neighborhoods paid off in recent elections, and the party is enjoying a wave of enthusiasm that is turning the state into deeper red. Republicans will hold an advantage in Election Day voter registration for the first time in Florida’s modern political history.
Prior to his arrival, Trump was already taking credit for this reversal.
“President Trump launched a historic red wave in Florida midterm in 2018 with his top-to-bottom vetted slate and shaped the Sunshine State into the MAGA stronghold it is today,” the statement said. announcement of Trump’s Save America PAC. “Thanks to President Trump, Florida is no longer a purple state; it is an America First Red State.
As DeSantis has embarked on his own out-of-state campaign circuit for Republican candidates, including a recent rally in New York for GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin, he is spending the last days of the race against Democrat Charlie Crist across Florida. His campaign had 13 events scheduled between Friday and Monday. On the final day, DeSantis planned a stopover in Trump’s adopted county of Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, not far from Trump’s Sunday event.
During the campaign trail, DeSantis doesn’t talk about Trump, but his remarks are peppered with frequent mentions of President Joe Biden in a preview of what a presidential campaign against the incumbent Democrat might look like.
At a Thursday event in central Florida, DeSantis called Biden “king Midas upside down.”
“Biden touches it and turns into something much worse than (gold),” DeSantis said. “It’s frustrating and a lot of people, the vast majority of Americans, think the country has seen its best days. They think we’re clearly on the wrong track. But you know, I think Florida provides the model that other states may follow.