Competing with rallies in Florida on Sunday, Trump and DeSantis are expected to clash in the GOP presidential primary



CNN

In anticipation of the Republican presidential primary, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis will hold rallies in Florida on Sunday as the two men battle for supremacy in the Sunshine State and the heart of the GOP.

The former president will welcome supporters in Miami, the third stop on a four-city tour that has made Trump a key player in his party’s battle for control of Congress. Meanwhile, Florida’s governor will have events in three counties on the state’s opposite coast – Hillsborough, Sarasota and Lee – drawing attention away from Trump as he looks to close out his bid for a second term.

For the past two years, Trump and DeSantis have lived together in the extremes of Florida: Trump plots his next move from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach and DeSantis builds himself into a household name in the state capital of Tallahassee. But as these mid-terms are coming to an end and they are seeing a decision about the political future, even on the 450 kilometer peninsula, it is increasingly difficult for the two to avoid each other.

“We have two very stubborn, very Type A politicians in Florida who are at the top of the GOP,” said one Republican official, who asked not to be named. “Both have attention, but both have their own political operation and that is what you are seeing. It’s already tiring to talk.’

The long, heated contest has spilled into the public eye in the final weeks leading up to Election Day. DeSantis recently endorsed Republican businessman and Colorado Senate candidate Joe O’Dea, who vowed to “actively campaign” against Trump in October.

“A BIG MISTAKE!” Trump wrote in response on the Truth Social platform.

Trump shared a clip of former Fox News host Megyn Kelly announcing that the GOP voter would remain firmly in Trump’s camp if DeSantis decided to challenge the former president in the Republican presidential primary. CNN reported on Friday that Trump may launch his next presidential bid this month.

But the staging of contested events within Florida two days before a key election day is particularly indicative of how strained the relationship between the former allies has become. Unlike other potential 2024 candidates, DeSantis has not ruled out running against Trump in the primary, much to Trump’s chagrin. DeSantis, meanwhile, believes the concession would undermine his attempts to keep the focus on his current re-election race, instead of what may lie ahead, CNN reported. DeSantis and his campaign have declined to publicly discuss his post-term plans, but at a recent debate, he declined to comment on whether he plans to serve a four-year term if re-elected.

If they go head-to-head in a primary, the two candidates may find themselves in similar financial situations. DeSantis has raised $200 million this campaign cycle through his two political committees and spent just over half, leaving about $90 million for a Super PAC. As of late October, Trump was sitting on about $117 million between his three active fundraising vehicles, according to federal election data.

Trump’s pre-election trip is motivated, at least in part, by his desire to launch his 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 “get ready” to return as a presidential candidate. Trump stopped in Pennsylvania on Saturday – a tight Senate race between Republican Mehmet Oz and Democrat John Fetterman – and will spend the eve of the election in Ohio, where the former president endorsed Republican JD Vance in the Senate against the Democrat. Tim Ryan

But organizing a rally in Florida was also widely reported as a shot across DeSantis’ bow. Trump announced last week that he plans to hold a rally in South Florida for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, leaving DeSantis off his plans. Since then, the list of guest speakers has grown to include the state’s junior senator, Rick Scott, as well as a dozen other elected officials and candidates from around the state.

The decision to hold the rally in Miami-Dade County comes as Republicans hope to take the onetime Democratic stronghold for the first time in two decades. Republican investments to advance Hispanic neighborhoods have paid off in recent elections, and the party is seeing a wave of enthusiasm turn the state redder. Republicans will have a voter registration advantage on Election Day for the first time in Florida’s modern political history.

Before his arrival, Trump was already taking credit for that turnaround.

“President Trump delivered a historic red wave in Florida in the 2018 midterms with his slate of candidates up and down the ballot and shaped the Sunshine State into today’s MAGA stronghold,” said the announcement from Trump’s Save America PAC. “Thanks to President Trump, Florida is no longer a purple state; America First is a Red State”.

While DeSantis began 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 final days of his race against Democrat Charlie Crist in Florida. His campaign scheduled 13 events between Friday and Monday. For the past day, DeSantis has planned a stop at Trump’s Palm Beach, not far from Trump’s Sunday event in Miami-Dade.

On the campaign trail, DeSantis doesn’t talk about Trump, but his remarks are peppered with frequent references to President Joe Biden in a preview of what a presidential campaign against today’s Democrat might look like.

At an event in Central Florida on Thursday, DeSantis called Biden “King Midas in reverse.”

“Biden touches it and it becomes much worse than (gold),” DeSantis said. “It’s disappointing and a lot of people, most Americans, think the country has seen its best days. They think we are going the wrong way. But you know, I think Florida sets a model that other states can follow.”