Trump-DeSantis rift grows, with duelling rallies in Florida


Former US president Donald Trump has not endorsed Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022 because, as he has explained, his fellow Floridian never asked.

DeSantis did not attend the Trump rally on Sunday in Miami, his allies said, because he was not personally invited.

Bruised egos are commonplace in politics. But rarely has a rift at the top of a party spilled so fully into view at such a pivotal moment.

At a rally on Saturday night in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Trump bestowed one of his signature nicknames on DeSantis: Ron DeSanctimonious.

Their escalating tensions took center stage on Sunday, with dueling campaign rallies in Florida just two days before voting concludes in the 2022 midterm elections.

Trump campaigned in South Florida with Senator Marco Rubio and other Florida Republicans, while DeSantis made his case for reelection during a set of events along the state’s west coast.

Trump did not repeat Saturday’s taunt on Sunday, and DeSantis did not mention the former president at his events.

But the collateral damage from their impasse looms as a distraction for their party in the final days of the midterms and could threaten deeper divisions among Republicans as they aim to recapture the White House in 2024.

“Nothing like trashing a Republican Governor 4 days before Election Day when his name is on the ballot. #team,” Josh Holmes, a Republican strategist and former campaign manager for Senator Mitch McConnell, wrote on Twitter.

Trump has been telling supporters, both publicly and privately, that he will announce another presidential bid soon.

DeSantis is widely viewed as the leading alternative for the Republican nomination, speculation fueled by his raising a staggering US$200 million (S$281 million) to support his reelection bid, including about US$90 million unspent, and running a national campaign in which he attacks President Joe Biden more often than his Democratic challenger, former Representative Charlie Crist.

Trump and DeSantis are the most popular politicians in the refashioned Republican Party, the 76-year-old former host of The Apprentice and the 44-year-old lawyer who has positioned himself to take over as master.

Trump has long claimed a kind of ownership stake in the rise of DeSantis, who was a relatively anonymous backbencher for six years in Congress when his underdog campaign for governor in 2018 was lifted by Trump’s endorsement.




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