Florida Presage a GOP Primary Confrontation: Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis will hold dueling Florida rallies on Sunday, previewing a future Republican presidential primary confrontation.
A GOP Primary Showdown Is Likely in Florida
The former president will meet with supporters in Miami, the third leg of a four-city trip that has made him a key role in his party’s congressional struggle. The Florida governor will lead his own events in Hillsborough, Sarasota, and Lee, avoiding Trump as he seeks re-election.
Trump and DeSantis have lived on opposite ends of Florida for two years, Trump in Mar-a-Lago and DeSantis in Tallahassee. As the midterms near and a choice looms over their political futures, it’s becoming tough for the two to avoid one other, even on a 450-mile peninsula.
“We have two extremely obstinate, very type-A politicians in Florida,” remarked an unnamed Republican official. “They both attract attention, but they have separate political activities. It’s tiring to discuss.” In the last weeks before Election Day, the long-simmering feud has become public. At a Pennsylvania event on Saturday, Trump mocked DeSantis and declared himself the front-runner in a hypothetical GOP primary.
Trump read purported poll figures to the crowd: “There it is, Trump at 71%, Ron DeSantimonious at 10%.” DeSantis backed Colorado Senate candidate Joe O’Dea, who pledged to “actively campaign” against Trump.
“DISASTER!” On Truth Social, Trump responded.
Trump then shared footage of former Fox News personality Megyn Kelly suggesting GOP voters would back Trump if DeSantis challenged him in a primary. CNN said Friday that Trump might run this month. Planning rival events in Florida two days before Election Day shows how tense the relationship has gotten. DeSantis hasn’t rejected to run against Trump in a primary, to Trump’s ire.
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DeSantis feels a capitulation would damage his efforts to focus on his reelection run, CNN said. DeSantis and his campaign have declined to discuss his plans beyond the midterms, but he wouldn’t comment when asked if he expects to serve a four-year term if re-elected.
i still believe Trump will clear the GOP field when he announces his candidacy. i’ll be happy if I’m wrong, but i really don’t see contenders like DeSantis/Nikki Haley/Glenn Youngkin going up against him in a primary when they’re scared to say a negative word about him right now.
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 4, 2022
In a primary, the two candidates may have identical financial standing. DeSantis has collected $200 million for his campaign and spent little over half, leaving $90 million for a Super PAC. According to federal election records, Trump had $117 million in three active fundraising entities at the end of October.
CNN claimed this week that Trump’s pre-election tour is driven in part by a third White House bid. Trump exhorted Iowa voters on Thursday to “get ready” for his presidential run. Trump visited Pennsylvania on Saturday, where he backed Republican Mehmet Oz against Democrat John Fetterman. He’ll spend election eve in Ohio, where he endorsed Republican J.D. Vance against Democrat Tim Ryan.
The Florida rally was perceived as a hit at DeSantis. Trump stated last week he will host a rally for Sen. Marco Rubio in South Florida, excluding DeSantis. Since then, state junior senator Rick Scott and a dozen other elected officials and candidates have spoken.
Republicans are hopeful they can win Miami-Dade County for the first time in 20 years. Republicans’ efforts to win over Hispanic voters have paid off in recent elections, turning the state a darker shade of red. First time in modern Florida politics, Republicans will have the voter registration edge on Election Day.
Trump credited the turnaround before his arrival. “With his slate of endorsed candidates up and down the ballot, President Trump delivered a historic red wave in Florida,” Trump’s Save America PAC declared. Thanks to Trump, Florida is now an America First Red State.
DeSantis is spending the last days of the election against Democrat Charlie Crist barnstorming around Florida. He just attended a rally in New York for GOP gubernatorial nominee Lee Zeldin. His campaign featured 13 events Friday-Monday. DeSantis will visit Trump’s adopted home county of Palm Beach and Miami-Dade on the last day.
DeSantis doesn’t discuss Trump on the campaign trail, but he frequently invokes President Joe Biden, previewing a presidential campaign against the incumbent Democrat. DeSantis labeled Biden “King Midas in reverse”
DeSantis: “Biden converts it into something worse than gold.” “It’s disheartening, and most Americans think the country’s greatest days are behind it. They assume we’re lost. I think Florida is a model for other states.