The battle for the White House took to the Sunshine State Saturday pitting the two GOP frontrunners against one another in dueling narratives over “dominating” endorsements.
Most of the remaining Republican field vying for the 2024 presidential nomination flocked to Florida Saturday to participate in the Florida Freedom Summit and get their names on the ballot for the primary. For the state’s Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump, the added nuance of jockeying for home-field advantage left both candidates bragging about whose “country” they were in.
With 93 of the original 99 endorsements from Florida legislators unveiled in May holding strong, DeSantis’ press secretary Bryan Griffin made clear in a statement to Florida’s Voice, “Ron DeSantis is dominating the field–including the former president–in supportive state legislative endorsements from across the country.”
In a show of force orchestrated by Republican operative Brian Hughes, who, according to The Messenger, had been a part of recruiting DeSantis for his 2012 congressional run and helped him secure victory alongside consultant Tim Baker, Trump appeared on stage Saturday with endorsements, including those who’d flipped, stating “What a nice-looking group of people!”
#BREAKING: Donald Trump brings on stage Florida lawmakers who flipped their endorsement from Ron DeSantis at the Florida Freedom Summit
“What a nice-looking group of people!” pic.twitter.com/7XY9xSFslU
— Florida’s Voice (@FLVoiceNews) November 4, 2023
The Messenger went on to identify those who’d turned from DeSantis as state Sen. Debbie Mayfield and state Reps. Jessica Baker (wife of the aforementioned Tim Baker), Webster Barnaby, Alina Garcia and Kevin Steele.
Additionally, Trump picked up endorsements from state Reps. Mike Beltran and David Borrero who had yet to back a candidate.
“It’s time to unite our party behind Donald Trump, prepare for the year ahead and work together to prevent another four years of Joe Biden’s disastrous policies from destroying this nation that we all love so dearly,” said Mayfield.
Appearances did not negate finer details from the DeSantis camp as Griffin went on to point to other key states while boiling the battle down to strictly a head-to-head competition at this point. “In Iowa, DeSantis holds a historic count of 41 state legislative endorsements which far surpasses Trump. In New Hampshire, DeSantis has over 60 endorsed state legislators–again, more than Trump.”
“And, in Florida, DeSantis has nearly 100 state legislators endorsing his run for president. That, too, is a number that significantly outpaces Trump,” the press secretary explained before adding, “This is yet another example of why DeSantis is the only candidate in this race with the message, resources, and organization needed to defeat both Trump and Biden.”
Not addressed by Griffin were the number of federal level politicians who had backed the former president that included Florida Reps. Byron Donalds and Matt Gaetz among others, as well as the newly obtained endorsement of Sen. Rick Scott.
Saturday’s event came just days before the third GOP primary debate scheduled to take place Nov. 8 in Miami, which Trump opted out of attending as he had with the previous two debates. Instead, the former president planned a “counterprogramming event.”
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