Escalation of Trump-DeSantis Feud Intensifies in the Republican Arena as Battle Lines are Drawn in Florida

by Andrew Wright
Trump-DeSantis rivalry

For Saturday Evening Posts

Ex-President Donald Trump is intensifying his presence in the state of Florida, strategically garnering support to eclipse Governor Ron DeSantis’s White House aspirations within their mutual domicile.

In recent times, Trump has gained the endorsement of Senator Rick Scott and Representative Randy Fine—a previous DeSantis confidant and advisor on Israeli affairs. Trump had already garnered a considerable backing from the majority of Republican Congressional members from Florida, and the trend appears to be gathering momentum with potential further endorsements on the horizon.

Despite these developments, DeSantis continues to command considerable influence as Governor, having enacted long-sought conservative policies and shifted the traditionally battleground state further rightward. Yet, with the Republican primary’s early contests approaching, DeSantis trails significantly in the 2024 race, confronting a Trump campaign that is relentless not only in securing the nomination but in delivering a political blow to DeSantis both statewide and on the national stage.

“Targeting Governor DeSantis’s influence in Florida is a calculated move by the Trump campaign,” remarked Alex Conant, a seasoned Republican strategist noted for his role in Senator Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential bid. “DeSantis stakes his claim on his success as governor. When other prominent Florida Republicans favor Trump, it substantially undermines DeSantis’s narrative.”

Both Trump and DeSantis are slated to address the audience at the forthcoming Florida Freedom Summit, organized by the Republican Party in a convention center near Orlando. Rick Scott, Randy Fine, and four Trump-endorsing House members are also expected to participate.

Four days subsequent to this event, DeSantis is set to appear among contenders at the third Republican debate in Miami, while Trump opts out, planning a concurrent rally in the Hialeah suburb complete with a separate “spin room” to coincide with the media’s post-debate analysis.

Once perceived as a primary challenger to Trump after a decisive re-election victory last year, DeSantis has seen his campaign struggle to gain momentum since its inception in May, placing him at a far second in the presidential race. According to a recent Des Moines Register poll, DeSantis is neck and neck with Nikki Haley in Iowa, each accumulating 16% compared to Trump’s commanding lead.

The Trump campaign has castigated DeSantis for perceived disloyalty and has not shied away from belittling his demeanor and voter interactions. In retort, DeSantis has highlighted Trump’s missteps and alluded to a diminishment in Trump’s once-stellar dynamism.

Their exchanges have recently devolved into crassness, with Trump’s camp circulating insinuations regarding DeSantis’s appearance and DeSantis countering with pointed barbs on a Newsmax interview, challenging Trump’s courage regarding debate participation.

The super PAC supporting DeSantis launched merchandise sporting a bold claim on golf balls, to which Trump’s spokesperson Steven Cheung sharply responded, mocking DeSantis’s fundraising efforts.

This bout of below-the-belt political jabs recalls Senator Rubio’s 2016 clash with Trump, characterized by Rubio’s taunts about Trump’s “small hands,” a campaign that culminated in Rubio’s withdrawal post-Florida primary defeat.

In a strategic party move last September, Florida’s GOP members rejected a motion that would have compelled primary candidates to endorse the final nominee, a pledge Trump himself has refrained from making regarding national GOP debates.

Former state party chairman Joe Gruters, a Trump advocate, anticipates further endorsements from Florida officials. However, he warns of the potential political peril for those opposing DeSantis, who retains the governorship for three more years. Gruters labeled DeSantis as “vindictive” towards those not in his camp, contributing to a hesitant atmosphere among party members to publicly declare their stance.

This report comes from Barrow in Atlanta, with additional reporting by Jill Colvin in New York for Big Big News.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Trump-DeSantis rivalry

Who has recently endorsed Donald Trump in Florida?

Donald Trump has recently been endorsed by U.S. Senator Rick Scott and Florida State Representative Randy Fine, who has been a long-time ally and advisor to Governor Ron DeSantis on Israeli affairs.

What is Governor Ron DeSantis’s position in the 2024 presidential race?

Governor Ron DeSantis is currently trailing in the 2024 presidential race, finding himself behind former President Donald Trump. A Des Moines Register poll showed DeSantis tied with Nikki Haley in Iowa, both at 16%, and 27 percentage points behind Trump.

Where and when are Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis expected to speak next?

Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are expected to speak at the Florida Freedom Summit, hosted by the state GOP at an Orlando-area convention center. Additionally, DeSantis is scheduled to participate in the third Republican debate in Miami, while Trump hosts a competing event in Hialeah.

What has been the nature of the recent exchanges between Trump and DeSantis?

The recent exchanges between Trump and DeSantis have turned crude, with Trump’s allies insinuating DeSantis wears lifts in his boots, and DeSantis making a bold retort during a Newsmax interview. The discourse has included jibes about personal attributes and energy levels.

How did Florida GOP members vote regarding a pledge to support the eventual nominee?

In September, Florida GOP members voted against requiring primary candidates to pledge their support for the eventual nominee in order to run in the next March primary. This move was seen as a symbolic win for Trump, who has refused to take a similar pledge for national GOP debates.

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Bill92 November 4, 2023 - 6:19 am

didn’t expect Fine to turn his back on DeSantis, interesting times

GaryT November 4, 2023 - 9:42 am

trump skipping debates again huh, guess some things never change

FloridaMan November 4, 2023 - 11:46 am

as a floridian, not sure how to feel about all this drama, just want good policy, not all this infighting…

Jenny McArthurs November 4, 2023 - 6:14 pm

wow just read about the Trump-DeSantis thing, politics is really turning into a reality show down there in Florida

Susan O'Neil November 4, 2023 - 9:48 pm

i mean, if you’re gonna sell golf balls at least make em classy, this is just lowbrow


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