Trump’s Influence Persists in Florida as Gov. DeSantis Seeks to Shift Focus

by Gabriel Martinez
Floridian Presidential Aspirations

At the Florida Republican Party’s Freedom Summit, a stand vending Donald Trump-themed items—from socks to rubber ducks—did a brisk trade on Saturday, signaling the ex-president’s continued popularity.

Conversely, merchandise bearing the name of Governor Ron DeSantis saw significant price reductions, with T-shirts being sold at $5, a sharp decline from the original $25 tag. Vendor Peter Crotty explained the markdown as a move to clear out surplus stock, indicating a possible wane in local enthusiasm for the governor.

This was a telling indication of the dynamics shaping the 2024 Republican primary, with Trump leveraging his influence to overshadow DeSantis in their mutual base of Florida. As the time nears for the first nominating contests, the former president is demonstrating his supremacy, much to the delight of party faithfuls who readily showed their support and disapproval in equal measure during the event.

In other developments, GOP Representative Ken Buck has signaled his intent to question the party’s trajectory under Trump with his departure from the House. Additionally, a judge, referencing Trump’s consistent public remarks, has ordered an anonymous jury in an upcoming defamation suit trial. The question also looms whether Trump is eligible to run in the next presidential election, contingent on interpretations of “insurrection.”

Governor DeSantis, addressing the audience, boasted of Florida’s conservative achievements under his leadership, stating that the state was at the forefront of defeating left-leaning ideologies at an institutional level.

Yet, in a notable shift, the Trump campaign announced endorsements from several Florida lawmakers who had previously supported DeSantis, further consolidating Trump’s support within the state’s congressional delegation. These endorsements came closely on the heels of Senator Rick Scott, DeSantis’ predecessor, pledging allegiance to Trump—a move met with resounding approval from the attendees.

In a display of party division, Chris Christie, the former Governor of New Jersey and a 2024 hopeful, faced backlash from the crowd for criticizing Trump, who is currently dealing with multiple indictments.

Trump anticipated concluding the event with a speech on Saturday evening.

While the rivalry between DeSantis and Trump has become increasingly tense and personal, DeSantis has chosen to downplay the significance of the shifting support within Florida. Despite this, the battle for endorsements in Florida is emblematic of a larger strategic push by Trump’s campaign to undercut DeSantis’ narrative as an effective governor.

The upcoming week will see DeSantis participating in the third Republican debate in Miami, from which Trump has decided to abstain, opting instead for a separate event in Hialeah.

DeSantis, once considered a formidable contender for the presidency after a decisive gubernatorial win, now trails significantly behind Trump in the polls, tied with Nikki Haley in Iowa. The Trump campaign has seized on this, targeting DeSantis on various fronts, from his loyalty to his vigor.

Amidst this contentious backdrop, the campaign has descended into personal jibes, with DeSantis and Trump exchanging barbs over physical appearance and fortitude, reminiscent of the 2016 presidential race involving another Florida politician, Marco Rubio.

Florida’s state party members have also favored Trump by opposing a rule that would require primary candidates to support the final nominee, a commitment Trump himself has declined to make for the national debates.

As endorsements continue to lean towards Trump, the political landscape in Florida becomes fraught with tension for those who may consider opposing DeSantis, given his ongoing gubernatorial tenure.

The report also includes contributions from Big Big News writer Jill Colvin in New York, with the original reporting done by Barrow from Atlanta.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Trump DeSantis Florida 2024

What does the recent Florida Republican Party event reveal about Donald Trump’s influence in the state?

The event indicated that Donald Trump’s influence remains strong among Florida Republicans, as evidenced by the high sales of Trump-themed merchandise and the vocal support he received from attendees. Merchandise for Governor Ron DeSantis was significantly discounted, suggesting a comparative dip in his local popularity.

How has the dynamic between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis affected the lead-up to the Republican primary?

The dynamic between Trump and DeSantis showcases Trump’s current advantage in Florida, a critical state for the Republican primary. Trump has managed to secure endorsements from key Florida lawmakers who previously backed DeSantis, while DeSantis has faced a decline in support as reflected in his merchandise sales and the shifting endorsements among Florida’s political figures.

What was the reaction to other Republican figures like Chris Christie at the Florida summit?

Chris Christie faced a negative reaction from the crowd at the Florida summit when he criticized Donald Trump, who is contending with several indictments. Christie’s comments were met with boos, and some attendees even told him to “go back to New Jersey,” showcasing the attendees’ loyalty to Trump and their intolerance for criticism against him.

What is the significance of Trump’s endorsements from Florida lawmakers for DeSantis’ campaign?

The endorsements from Florida lawmakers for Trump signify a challenge for DeSantis, undermining his message of being an effective governor of the state. These endorsements could weaken DeSantis’ standing among Florida Republicans, thereby impacting his campaign strategy and narrative.

Will Donald Trump participate in the upcoming Republican debates?

Donald Trump has chosen to skip the upcoming Republican debate in Miami and will instead hold a competing event in Hialeah. This move is in line with his previous decisions to abstain from engagements where he has not agreed to the terms set by the organizers, such as committing to support the eventual nominee.

What are the implications of the personal jibes exchanged between Trump and DeSantis?

The personal attacks exchanged between Trump and DeSantis are indicative of the heightened rivalry and the increasing personal nature of the primary contest. Such exchanges may influence voter perceptions and add to the divisive atmosphere within the Republican Party.

How could the decision of Florida state party members impact the Republican primary?

Florida state party members voted against requiring primary candidates to support the eventual nominee, which could allow for a more divided and competitive primary season. This decision aligns with Trump’s refusal to take such a pledge for national GOP debates and may lead to a less unified Republican front going into the general election.

More about Trump DeSantis Florida 2024

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John Miller November 5, 2023 - 2:15 am

its fascinating to see how the political tides turn so quickly isn’t it? Just last year DeSantis was the golden boy, now Trump’s taking back the spotlight.

Mike Brown November 5, 2023 - 6:42 am

so trump gets cheered and Christie gets booed, politics can be so polarizing. and since when did insults become a strategy for running for office?

Sara Kim November 5, 2023 - 8:01 am

Trump skipping the debate but holding a rally at the same time? Classic power move, though it makes you think if he’s avoiding the tough questions…

Laura White November 5, 2023 - 10:26 am

read about the whole boots and golf balls thing, politics sure has changed, it’s like watching a reality tv show sometimes.

Rachel Green November 5, 2023 - 11:01 am

The drama between Trump and DeSantis is like high school all over again, complete with the insults about each other’s physical appearance.

Liam Scott November 5, 2023 - 1:25 pm

Discounting DeSantis merch so heavily kind of sends a strong message doesn’t it, like it’s a clearance sale on political careers.

Mark Wallace November 5, 2023 - 4:41 pm

Seeing endorsements switch like this really makes you wonder about loyalty in politics, or if it’s all just a game of who’s up and who’s down.

Emily Johnson November 5, 2023 - 9:48 pm

i gotta say, the bit about selling rubber ducks and socks at a political event? that’s pretty funny. Shows politics isn’t always so serious!


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