July 26, 2021

Trump and DeSantis go head to head over Florida rally

As the search for bodies in the wreckage of a collapsed high-rise condo in Florida continues, reports suggest that the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis has stabbed former President Donald Trump in the back over Trump’s refusal to postpone a campaign-style event in Sarasota on Saturday, according to the Washington Examiner.

Reports suggest that the former commander in chief is determined that his rally – set to take place more than 200 miles from the site of the devastation – should go on as scheduled, despite what has been referred to as “a direct plea” from DeSantis’ office for a postponement.

The Examiner reported that one Florida Republican close to the matter opined that it is time for Trump and his advisors to “read the room” and delay the event,  adding that longtime ally “[DeSantis] is getting tested here as to how far he’s going to be pushed before he breaks ranks with President Trump. And he has to be very careful because this is Trump Country.”

However, according to a different report in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, DeSantis’ staff released a statement earlier this week denying suggestions that the governor is seeking a postponement of the Trump event, and Republican Party officials subsequently indicated that the rally is moving ahead as initially planned.

According to the governor’s office, DeSantis “is focusing on his duties as governor and the tragedy in Surfside, and has never suggested or requested that events planned in different parts of Florida – from the Stanley Cup finals to President Trump’s rally – should be canceled.”

Liz Harrington, spokesperson for the former president declared, “Like all Americans, President Trump sends his deepest condolences to those who’ve lost loved ones or been displaced by the terrible tragedy in Surfside. The event in Sarasota, however, is on the other side of the state…and will not impact any of the recovery efforts. In fact, President Trump has instructed his team to collect relief aid for Surfside families both online and on-site at the Sarasota rally.”

Whether or not reports of a serious rift between the Trump and DeSantis camps are true or are mere exaggerations, the scenario raises a host of interesting questions as speculation about the 2024 presidential race continues to heat up.

DeSantis’ political star has continued to rise throughout the pandemic and beyond, and he even topped Trump in the Western Conservative Summit presidential straw poll earlier this month, as The Hill reported at the time. While Trump has not made a definitive statement about his plans for 2024, he has in recent months given strong hints about eyeing another White House run.

Though Trump has said he “would certainly consider Ron” as a potential running mate, should he decide to mount another presidential campaign, it remains unclear whether DeSantis would even be interested in the number-two job. If they prove true, rumors of conflict over the Sarasota rally could theoretically be the start of a political uncoupling of this pair of GOP powerhouses and long-standing allies, but only time will tell.

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