Escalating Feud: Trump vs. DeSantis Rivalry Intensifies Amid GOP Florida Gathering

by Andrew Wright
Floridian Presidential Aspirations

Amidst the burgeoning 2024 presidential campaign, Donald Trump intensifies his efforts to thwart Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s White House aspirations, securing broader campaign support in their mutual domicile of Florida. This escalation was on full display Saturday, as both political figures courted Republican officials and activists.

The rivalry between DeSantis and Trump was palpable at the state party’s Freedom Summit, where the audience’s reactions clearly demarcated their loyalties. Enthusiastic cheers erupted for Senator Rick Scott of Florida, a staunch Trump supporter, as he reaffirmed his backing of Trump, who many consider the Republican frontrunner. Conversely, Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor whose campaign has not gained traction, faced jeers from the crowd for criticizing Trump’s suitability for the party and the nation.

Scott’s endorsement of Trump included a notable omission of DeSantis, despite succeeding Scott in the governorship.

Trump’s campaign strategically publicized the shift of seven Florida legislators from DeSantis to Trump, a testament to Trump’s influence in a state where DeSantis has achieved considerable conservative victories and pushed the state’s politics further to the right. This revelation was initially brought to light by The Messenger, indicating a potential shift in the political winds within Florida.

The tension between Trump and DeSantis has become increasingly acerbic and uncouth, reaching new heights in recent engagements.

Florida’s Lt. Governor, Jeannette Nuñez, ardently defended DeSantis, emphasizing the transformative impact of their administration on Florida. Meanwhile, Christie’s opposition to Trump’s nomination, amid multiple criminal indictments, invited scorn and the derisive suggestion to return to New Jersey.

Amidst this, DeSantis confronts a formidable challenge, trailing significantly in the polls and facing a Trump campaign that is not only intent on victory but also keen to discredit DeSantis in the electoral process. Promotional materials for both Trump and DeSantis were available at the convention, with DeSantis’s merchandise being notably marked down.

Alex Conant, a Republican strategist and veteran of Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign, highlighted the critical nature of the support from Florida officials for DeSantis’s campaign message.

Looking ahead, DeSantis is set to participate in the third Republican debate in Miami, while Trump opts out, choosing to host an alternative event in the neighboring city of Hialeah.

DeSantis, who initially appeared to be a formidable contender following a significant gubernatorial reelection victory, has found his campaign struggling since its inception in May, trailing significantly behind Trump. Recent polls from Des Moines Register placed him on par with Nikki Haley, each garnering 16% of support, a stark contrast to Trump’s lead.

Amidst the heated competition, Trump has accused DeSantis of disloyalty and the Trump campaign has taken jabs at DeSantis’s demeanor and voter interactions. DeSantis has retorted by highlighting Trump’s missteps and questioning his vigor.

The campaign has devolved into personal attacks, with Trump’s camp circulating rumors of DeSantis’s purported use of shoe lifts and DeSantis issuing a brash challenge to Trump regarding debate attendance.

This crude banter echoes the 2016 presidential bid by another Floridian, Senator Marco Rubio, who quipped about Trump’s “small hands” after Trump’s personal jibes. Rubio’s campaign ended shortly after a defeat in the Florida primary.

Within the state party, Trump scored a procedural victory when members opposed a mandate for Florida primary candidates to endorse the eventual nominee, a pledge Trump has declined at the national level.

Joe Gruters, a former state party chairman and early Trump supporter, anticipates further endorsements but acknowledges the potential backlash for those who pivot away from DeSantis, who remains governor for three more years. He cited the difficult position of lawmakers who risk retaliation in their local service roles, suggesting that fear may be keeping some supporters silent.

Barrow contributed from Atlanta, with additional reporting by Jill Colvin of Big Big News in New York.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Trump-DeSantis rivalry

What is the current state of the rivalry between Trump and DeSantis?

The rivalry between Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is intensifying as both potential candidates position themselves for the 2024 presidential race. They are actively courting support from Republican leaders and activists, with Trump garnering endorsements from figures who previously supported DeSantis. The competition has become personal and heated, especially evident in their respective campaigns and public remarks.

How did attendees at the state party’s Freedom Summit react to Trump and DeSantis?

At the Freedom Summit, attendees showed strong support for Trump, with enthusiastic cheers following Senator Rick Scott’s endorsement of Trump. In contrast, there was a negative response to Chris Christie’s criticism of Trump, indicative of the attendees’ leanings. DeSantis’s presence and impact on the event were not directly mentioned, but it’s clear there’s division among the party members.

What recent developments suggest a shift in support within the Florida GOP?

Recent developments include the shift of seven Florida legislators’ endorsements from DeSantis to Trump, as reported by The Messenger. This suggests that Trump retains significant influence in Florida, a state where DeSantis has been politically dominant. The Trump campaign’s active efforts to undermine DeSantis’s standing in Florida underscore the intense rivalry between the two.

Are there any indications of how Republican Florida lawmakers are aligning?

Republican Florida lawmakers seem to be increasingly aligning with Trump, as indicated by recent endorsements. However, there’s also caution among some due to Governor DeSantis’s remaining tenure and the potential political risks of opposing him. This division within the Florida GOP reflects the broader national picture of the party’s alignment leading up to the 2024 elections.

How are Trump and DeSantis’s campaign strategies differing ahead of the 2024 election?

Trump’s campaign is aggressively seeking endorsements and aiming to publicly discredit DeSantis. Trump is skipping debates in favor of his own events, while DeSantis is participating in them, indicating different approaches to engaging with the party base. Both campaigns are also engaging in personal attacks, reflecting the intensity of their rivalry.

More about Trump-DeSantis rivalry

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Jenny R November 4, 2023 - 9:16 pm

Saw the reactions at the summit, can’t believe how divided the party is right now, it’s like a soap opera honestly

Ted K November 4, 2023 - 10:10 pm

not sure why Christie would go against Trump in Florida of all places, guess he didnt get the memo that it’s trump territory

Mark J November 5, 2023 - 1:36 am

really think Trump’s playing a tough game here his support in Florida is still strong, thats a big deal for DeSantis to counter

Sarah L November 5, 2023 - 1:32 pm

looks like the 2024 race is heating up already, who would’ve thought Florida would become the battleground state it is

Dave P November 5, 2023 - 1:34 pm

desantis has his work cut out for him, winning policy victories is one thing but going up against Trump is a whole different ball game


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