Trump stumped for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and others in Miami, while DeSantis campaigned in Sarasota County and elsewhere for his own reelection bid. Although barely mentioned during his wide-ranging event that he dubbed the “greatest rally we’ve ever had,” the brewing DeSantis rift loomed large as Trump again teased a 2024 bid.
“Now our country is being destroyed. I ran twice. I won twice, and I did much better the second time than I did the first,” Trump proclaimed at the rally, reiterating his disputed claims the 2020 election was stolen. “In order to make our country successful, safe, and glorious, I will probably have to do it again.”
Trump has long been teasing a 2024 debut and is reportedly eyeing a launch after the midterm elections. During a rally in Pennsylvania Saturday night, Trump beta tested his name-calling tactic against DeSantis, deriding him as “Ron DeSanctimonious” while also teasing his 2024 ambitions.
Branding his rivals for various physical or political shortcomings has been a hallmark of Trump’s political career and signature strategy. In addition to Rubio, who is vying against Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and others attended the rally. It is unclear if DeSantis was uninvited or opted to skip.
In one passing mention of his potential 2024 foe, Trump told the crowd: “You’re going to reelect Ron DeSantis as your governor of your state.”
DeSantis is up 11.5 percentage points against former governor Charlie Crist (D-FL), according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls.
Rather than vaulting his feud with the governor into the spotlight before the Florida crowd, Trump stuck to dusting off a rhetorical greatest hits of jabs against the Democrats and the bleak state of the country while touting the accomplishments of his presidency.
DeSantis has been Trump’s strongest rival in a hypothetical 2024 GOP primary in a bevy of polling. While the duo largely dabble in a similar kind of populist brand of politics, the Florida governor’s strong showing has reportedly riled up Trump behind the scenes.
Things came to a head last month when DeSantis recorded robocalls for Colorado Senate hopeful Joe O’Dea. Despite O’Dea’s strong showing in polls, which has given Republicans a glimmer of hope of clinching the uphill seat to boost their Senate prospects, Trump has raged against him for criticizing his presidency.
Of all the GOP Senate nominees in the 2022 midterm election cycle outside of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), O’Dea has perhaps been the most outspoken against the former president. Trump decried DeSantis’s backing of O’Dea as “a big mistake” and has seemingly used DeSantis’s defiance as an excuse to attack his potential foe.
A cacophony of conservatives bristled at Trump for starting his onslaught against DeSantis early, arguing he should wait until after the midterm elections.
DeSantis has been coy about his 2024 plans. He was also similarly tight-lipped about the brewing Trump feud during his campaign event. He is battling against Crist (D-FL) for a second term as Florida governor.