With contested Florida rallies Sunday, Trump and DeSantis preview a potential GOP presidential primary showdown



CNN

In a preview of a potential Republican presidential primary showdown, Donald Trump And Ron DeSantis Florida will host rallies on Sunday as the two 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 frontrunner in his party’s fight for control of Congress. Meanwhile, Florida Gov He heads his own events in three counties on opposite coasts of the state — Hillsborough, Sarasota and Lee — far from Trump as he seeks to complete his bid for a second term.

For the past two years, Trump and DeSantis have lived together on opposite ends of Florida — with Trump plotting his next move from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach and DeSantis from the state capital of Tallahassee, where he made his household name. But as this interregnum comes to an end, and even on a 450-mile-long peninsula, with decisions to be made about their political futures, it becomes increasingly difficult for the two to avoid each other.

“We have two very stubborn, very type-A politicians in Florida who are at the tip of the spear for the GOP,” said one Republican official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They both attract attention, but they both have their own political activities, that’s what you see. Talking is already tiring.

Long boil Competition In the final weeks leading up to election day, it spread to the public eye. At a Pennsylvania rally on Saturday, Trump took a direct swipe at DeSantis and gave the governor a new nickname while declaring himself the frontrunner in a hypothetical GOP primary.

“There it is, Trump 71 (percent), Ron DeSanctimonious 10 percent,” Trump told the crowd as he read the purported poll numbers from a screen.

DeSantis recently endorsed Republican businessman and Colorado Senate candidate Joe O’Dea, with O’Dea vowing in October to “campaign aggressively” against Trump.

“A big mistake!” Trump wrote back on his truth social site.

Trump followed up by sharing a clip of former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly saying that if DeSantis decides to challenge the former president in the Republican presidential primary, GOP voters will stay firmly in Trump’s camp. CNN reported Friday that Trump might begin His next presidential bid Soon this month.

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But the scheduling of rival events within Florida just two days before a crucial election day illustrates just how fraught the relationship between the former allies is. Unlike other potential 2024 contenders, DeSantis has not ruled out running against Trump in the primary. Much to Trump’s chagrin. DeSantis, meanwhile, believes such an offer would undermine his focus on his current re-election race instead, CNN previously reported. DeSantis and his campaign declined to publicly discuss his plans after the midterms, but In a recent discussionAsked if he would like to serve four years if re-elected, he would not answer.

In his three appearances on Sunday, DeSantis didn’t mention Trump or the “Ron DeSanctimonius” nickname, choosing instead to criticize President Joe Biden and the so-called “woke.”

DeSantis has described himself as a fighter who has stood up to medical experts and critics of reopening the state during the pandemic and banning coronavirus vaccine mandates, a sentiment echoed in a campaign ad in which DeSantis says he was created by God to fight for Florida.

However, the biggest cheer for the Florida governor came when he described how he arranged for Florida to send nearly 50 settlers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.

If they go head-to-head in a primary, both candidates could find themselves in similar financial positions. DeSantis raised He has spent $200 million this campaign cycle through his two political committees and has left about $90 million in seed money 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 tour That was at least in part motivated by his desire to launch a third campaign for the White House, CNN reported this week. Indeed, Trump, who visited Iowa on Thursday, told voters in the first-in-the-nation caucus state to “get ready” to return as a presidential candidate. Trump stopped in Pennsylvania on Saturday – where there is a tight Senate race between his supporter, Republican Mehmet Oz and Democrat John Fetterman – and will spend the day before the election in Ohio, where the former president is supporting Republican JD Vance in a Senate race against a Democrat. Tim Ryan.

But planning the Florida rally was widely seen as a shot across the bow at DeSantis. US Senate in South Florida. Trump first announced his intention to hold a rally for Marco Rubio last week. Since then, the list of guest speakers has included Rick Scott, the state’s junior senator, and more than a dozen elected officials and candidates from across the state.

Republicans are hopeful that the decision to hold the rally in Miami-Dade County will be the first time in two decades that it has been a Democratic stronghold. Investments by Republicans in reaching the region’s Hispanic neighborhoods have paid off in recent elections, and the party is seeing a wave of enthusiasm that is turning the state deeper red. Republicans will have an advantage in voter registration on Election Day for the first time in Florida’s modern political history.

Former President Donald Trump, GOP Sen. at the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022 in Miami.  Speaking at a campaign rally in support of Marco Rubio's campaign.

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

“President Trump delivered a historic red wave in Florida in the 2018 midterm elections, and his endorsement vote up and down the ballot turned the Sunshine State into the MAGA stronghold it is today,” said a statement from Trump’s Save America PAC. “Thanks to President Trump, Florida is no longer a purple state; It was America’s first red state.

DeSantis has campaigned for Republican candidates outside his home state, including a recent rally in New York for GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin, who is pouring across Florida in the final days of his race against Democrat Charlie Crist. His campaign had 13 scheduled events between Friday and Monday. On the final day, DeSantis is scheduled to make stops in Trump’s adopted hometown of Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, not far from Trump’s Sunday event.

On the campaign trail, DeSantis hasn’t talked about Trump, but his comments have been peppered with frequent references to President Joe Biden in a preview of what the current Democratic presidential campaign will look like.

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

“Biden touches it and becomes something worse than (gold),” DeSantis said. “It’s disappointing and a lot of people, the majority of Americans, they think the country has seen its best days. They think we’re clearly going down the wrong path. But you know, I think Florida provides a blueprint that other states can follow.

This story was updated Sunday with additional information.

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