‘This is big’: Dueling Florida rallies threatens to set Trump and DeSantis on collision course over 2024

The overall result of the midterms is all but decided to many prognosticators and, with attentions braced to pivot hard to 2024, dueling rallies in the Sunshine State between former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis may be setting the stage for the Republican contest to come.

While Trump has been actively campaigning throughout the year for candidates that he has endorsed on his Save America tour, DeSantis has only more recently jumped into the fray stumping in places like Arizona, Pennsylvania and, most recently, New York.

With the final days of the cycle arriving, the governor is understandably turning his focus to his own reelection but was forced to make a choice after Trump chose the Sunday before the election to rally for Sen. Marco Rubio in Miami.

Following his Wednesday announcement, the president boasted of the supposed favor this had brought in the race against Democratic Rep. Val Demings and wrote on Truth Social, “Wow, Senator Marco Rubio has taken an 11-point lead in his run against a weak-on-crime Radical Left Impeacher, someone who is incapable of doing the job that needs to be done, since we announced the Big Rally for him on the following Sunday (November 6th) in Miami. He deserves to win, and win BIG. See you at the Rally!!!”

Politico jumped on the story and reported, “‘You’ve got the Sunday before Election Day totally hijacked by Trump parachuting in on Trump Force One taking up the whole day,’ said a longtime Republican consultant who is close to the governor. ‘No Republican could go to a DeSantis event that day. None. And DeSantis won’t be here? This is big.'”

The portrayed division was tempered by an adviser to Trump disputing that there was no conflict between the president and governor, “‘This is an event President Trump is holding as part of a series of stops he is making for Republican Senate candidates,’ the Trump adviser said. ‘It came after he and Senator Rubio spoke directly.'”

Without an invite to the rally, DeSantis, who had not outwardly sought an endorsement for his reelection bid from Trump, had to choose between asking to attend, not rallying two days before the election, or holding his own rally which he decided and announced Friday would take place on Nov. 6 in Tampa.

The leaders have remained outwardly civil toward one another, but Trump recently critiqued DeSantis’ decision to endorse Colorado Senate candidate Joe O’Dea. While the govenror had said, “I’ve watched Joe from a distance, and I’m impressed,” Trump called it “A BIG MISTAKE!”

Prior to the clipped remark, the president had remarked on O’Dea stating, “There’s this RINO character in the Great State of Colorado, Joe O’Dea, that is running against the incumbent Democrat for the United States Senate, who is having a good old time saying that he wants to ‘distance’ himself from President Trump, and other slightly nasty things. He should look at the Economy, Inflation, Energy Independence, defeating ISIS, the Strongest EVER Border, Great Trade Deals, & much more, before he speaks. MAGA doesn’t Vote for stupid people with big mouths. Good luck Joe!”

As the ramifications of the dueling debates are considered, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications executive associate dean Spiro Kiousis told the Washington Examiner, “They have both been sort of mutually keeping an eye on each other, but no one’s really made any sort of move yet.”

Despite being pressed during his gubernatorial debate with former Rep. Charlie Crist (D), DeSantis has not commented on any future aspirations for the presidency and Trump has remained coy on the subject with repeated hints at another run.

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Kevin Haggerty

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