Former President Donald Trump is rejecting pleas from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to postpone a marketing campaign-model rally this weekend some 200 miles from the Miami suburb the place a global search-and-rescue mission is excavating our bodies from the location of a collapsed seaside condominium.
DeSantis’s workplace has “made a direct plea” to the former president’s team, calling on it to postpone the Saturday event in Sarasota. One Florida Republican bluntly said Trump and his team need to “read the room.”
“The governor is getting tested here as to how far he’s going to be pushed before he breaks ranks with President Trump. And he has to be very careful because this is Trump country,” this source said. “The base loves the president. But they equally love Ron. It’s a showdown going on right now.”
For now, the Trump camp is holding firm. “Nobody wants to cancel,” a source close to Trump told the Washington Examiner.
The dynamic between the former president and governor is complicated. Trump is eyeing the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. But so is DeSantis. Trump is both a fan of DeSantis and cognizant that the Florida leader has gained popularity with conservatives around the country for his handling of the coronavirus, with policies that were less restrictive than most other states. The situation is further complicated by a former president who might use the rally to send a message to a protege and a popular state executive who could use it to stand up to the former reality television star.
DeSantis, a 42-year-old former Navy officer, is threading a needle, with one eye on Trump and another on his reelection campaign.
“He does have to win reelection in 2022,” a former Trump aide said. “He can’t piss off the president. But at the same time, he’s reading the temperature correctly.”
And while Trump and DeSantis are close, they haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. The same goes for key players involved in the Sarasota drama.
Trump’s post-presidency operation is led by Susie Wiles, a former top Trump campaign official who was recruited to lead his political operations earlier this year. Wiles, a veteran political strategist in the Sunshine State, led Trump’s Florida team in the 2016 general election and DeSantis’s 2018 campaign for governor before the relationship soured.
“There’s an enormous rift between the DeSantis and Trump [camps],” a source said, pointing directly to the conflict over the rally. (Like others interviewed for this piece, the source was granted anonymity to speak candidly.)
DeSantis’s feud with Wiles is well-documented and flared up during last year’s presidential race when she returned to Trump’s side.
The governor at that time sought to dissuade donors from contributing to the Republican National Convention because of Wiles’s involvement in the planning, according to a report.
‘Go for the jugular’
An operative suggested the bad blood between Wiles and DeSantis was clouding the decision to keep the rally on schedule, a source said. “Because Ron DeSantis doesn’t want it, she’s gonna make sure it happens,” this source said. “The governor supports the president, but something awful just happened in his state.”
This person added: “We can walk and chew gum at the same time. But right now, there’s a Kumbaya moment. People need this. We need everybody to come together, we need to see that to start healing this country. And we saw a little bit of that today for the first time in five years. Today was the first day that people were like, ‘Maybe there’s hope that our country can come back together again.’ Only for, on Saturday, the former president tearing the Band-Aid off: He’s gonna go for the jugular.”
Setting up a clear contrast, President Joe Biden, the likely Democratic nominee in 2024, will make the visit to Miami on Thursday to meet with families and first responders, joined by his wife, first lady Jill Biden. The 46th president has lost a wife, daughter, and adult son, and even his GOP critics say empathy is one of his strengths as a politician; Trump has rarely flashed the same trait in public, opting instead for brash rhetoric.
Advisers to the former president pleaded with him to show empathy last year as the coronavirus swept across the country, killing more than 600,000 people. It was a trait widely associated with then-candidate Biden, the race’s eventual winner, whose first wife and young daughter died in a car crash in 1972, and whose son Beau died of cancer in 2015.
A source suggested Trump could hold a moment of silence for the community in Surfside, which is located six miles north of Miami and about one hour from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate. In an email promoting the event, the Republican Party of Florida urged supporters on Tuesday to give directly to two local relief funds, according to a copy shared with the Washington Examiner.
DeSantis is among the most popular politicians in the country, weathering the coronavirus pandemic and recently besting Trump in a presidential straw poll this month. DeSantis captured 74 percentage points to 71 for Trump. Last year, Trump secured 95% support.
Besides, Florida is Trump country, state Republicans said, suggesting any outrage from Democratic camps would do little to hurt Republican prospects.
Liz Harrington, a spokeswoman for Trump, defended the decision and said Trump had spearheaded the fundraising push.
“Like all Americans, President Trump sends his deepest condolences to those that’ve misplaced family members or been displaced by the horrible tragedy in Surfside. The occasion in Sarasota, nonetheless, is on the opposite aspect of the state, 3 1/2 hours away, roughly the identical distance from Boston to New York, and won’t affect any of the restoration efforts,” Harrington said. “In reality, President Trump has instructed his workforce to gather reduction help for Surfside households each on-line and on-web site on the Sarasota rally.”
Still, conceded one operative, if he had been to advise DeSantis, he would say to steer clear.
“I would say, ‘Look, it’s up to you.’ You’ve been right every single time [but] you haven’t won reelection in 2022 yet,” this individual stated. “You’ve got to stay on reelection 2022 and reelection 2022 says stick with Surfside and continue to manage the Sunshine State you have.”
Asked whether or not DeSantis deliberate to fulfill with Biden whereas the president is in Surfside on Thursday, Christina Pushaw, press secretary for the governor’s workplace, stated plans had been nonetheless being labored out.
And Pushaw stated she couldn’t converse to the dispute.
“As a state office, the Executive Office of the Governor doesn’t engage in political activity, so we wouldn’t have any visibility or insight to share about that,” Pushaw said.
A top political aide to DeSantis did not respond to a request for comment by time of publication.
Both DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio are on the ballot in 2022, elections that are “probably the most consequential in a generation,” this person said, putting on track the Republican Party to capture greater power.
Meanwhile, political opponents are eyeing DeSantis closely.
“You’ve got a governor who rolled the dice 10 times, and he’s done well throughout the pandemic. He’s been right. And now not only is he drawing the admiration of Republicans, but he’s drawing the anger of Democrats,” this Florida operative said.
DeSantis has appeared to portray a level-headed and compassionate governor since the building collapsed. At least 12 people were dead and 149 still unaccounted for as the Surfside rescue effort entered its sixth day on Tuesday. No survivors have been discovered since the first morning of the tower’s partial collapse.
Response teams from Israel and Mexico are aiding the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s rescue efforts. And Florida Republican and Democrat elected officials have been a constant presence at the site.
“We’re talking about 150 people that are missing,” this former aide said. “There’s massive loss of life. People are grieving. There’s a lot of confusion as to what other buildings might be affected. Right now, the governor is down there almost every single day. What, you’re gonna go across and do a rally and beat up Democrats? It’s tone-deaf.”
And whereas Trump is a high cheerleader for DeSantis, he can even preserve him in his place, lowering any presidential ambitions the Florida governor might need to the operating-mate stakes.
Trump advised Maria Bartiromo in April that he was open to placing him on his ticket ought to he select to run for workplace once more.
“He’s a good friend of mine. I endorsed Ron, and after I endorsed him, he took off like a rocket ship,” Trump stated. “A lot of people like that — you know, I’m just saying what I read and what you read — they love that ticket … certainly, Ron would be considered. He’s a great guy.”
Trump has given few clues about whether or not he intends to run in 2024, leaving Republican hopefuls with one eye on the previous president’s prospects and one other on their very own.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner final week, former White House chief of employees Mark Meadows stated he didn’t suppose DeSantis would problem Trump, tamping down any hypothesis of a DeSantis run.
“[DeSantis] could be the primary to say that if President Trump will get in, that he would win the nomination and would clear the sphere, and so I do not ever see it being a 2016 main state of affairs,” said Meadows, who has joined the Conservative Partnership Institute since leaving office. “That being said, Gov. DeSantis won’t even — he’s asked over and over and over again every time I’m in his presence — he’s been asked, ‘Are you running in 2024?’”
In Ohio last week, Trump hosted his first campaign-style rally since leaving the White House. Saturday would be the second stop in a tour through the presidential battlegrounds.
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Original Author: Katherine Doyle
Original Location: DeSantis feuds with Trump over Florida rally amid condo collapse search