Donald Trump will rally Florida Republicans just days before the midterm elections. But Ron DeSantis, the state’s Republican governor, won’t be there.
While the November 6 rally in Miami will feature Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, CNN reports that Trump’s team did not inform DeSantis of their plans ahead of time. Both Rubio and DeSantis are up for reelection this year.
This is not a mistake or an oversight. It’s the latest in a series of verbal (and non-verbal) snubs that Trump has directed toward DeSantis ahead of a potential showdown between the two Republicans in the 2024 presidential primary.
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Trump has made his view of DeSantis crystal clear.
“If I faced him, I’d beat him like I would beat everyone else,” Trump told Yahoo Finance in October of last year. “I think most people would drop out, I think he would drop out.”
Trump has also claimed that he “made” DeSantis when he endorsed his bid for governor in 2018 – providing the then-congressman with the momentum that he needed to win not just the primary, but the general election.
While Trump – as he often does – exaggerates his role in DeSantis’ 2018 win, there is no question that he helped.
More recently, Trump labeled it a “BIG MISTAKE” when DeSantis recorded a robocall for Colorado Republican Senate nominee Joe O’Dea. O’Dea had drawn Trump’s ire by saying in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash that he would “actively” oppose the former President if he ran for the White House in 2024.
DeSantis, for his part, has largely avoided Trump. That includes the sort of boot-polishing that many Republican elected officials have engaged in as they try to secure Trump’s endorsement. Trump has not formally endorsed DeSantis’ reelection bid.
The lack of kowtowing to Trump is notable. Especially when you consider that DeSantis, when asked at a debate this week whether he would pledge to serve a full four-year term if elected, punted.
Trump’s not-so-subtle jabs about DeSantis are a telling indicator that the former President takes seriously the political threat that the Florida governor poses.
Which he should!
Since his election in 2018, DeSantis has rapidly emerged as a major player in GOP national politics. He rose to prominence during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic when he expressed skepticism about closures and masking policies that the Biden administration was recommending. DeSantis then latched onto the notion of “woke” culture – opposing critical race theory from being taught in schools, for example.
Polling on a hypothetical 2024 GOP primary race still casts Trump as the frontrunner. But DeSantis routinely scores double digit support – typically the only Republican not named Trump to do so. And in a New Hampshire primary poll released over the summer, DeSantis and Trump were at roughly equal levels of support.
None of that is to say that a) DeSantis will definitely run for president or b) that he could make a serious challenge to Trump.
But what’s clear is that Trump is very well aware of the threat that DeSantis poses – and is moving to counteract it.