Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has disputed a report that he and former President Donald Trump, the GOP’s current heavyweights, have been “feuding” about a planned Fourth of July celebration and rally Trump is holding in Sarasota, Florida.
The Washington Examiner reported this week that Trump had been “rejecting pleas” from DeSantis to postpone the event “some 200 miles from the Miami suburb where an international search-and-rescue mission is excavating bodies from the [Champlain Towers South condo building collapse in Surfside, Florida].”
The Examiner reported that DeSantis’ office had “made a direct plea” to Trump’s team, asking the former president to postpone his Saturday rally due to the ongoing search and rescue efforts in Surfside, where the governor remains on the scene.
“The governor is getting tested here as to how far he’s going to be pushed before he breaks ranks with President Trump,” a source close to DeSantis said, according to the outlet. “And he has to be very careful because this is Trump country.”
“The base loves the president. But they equally love Ron. It’s a showdown going on right now,” the person reportedly added.
On Saturday, a representative for DeSantis disputed the report in a conversation with Fox News, and especially the report’s headline, which reads, “DeSantis feuds with Trump over Florida rally amid search for survivors in Surfside.”
“There was never, at any time, a ‘plea’ from Gov. DeSantis or anyone on his team to cancel or postpone the rally,” the governor’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, said.
”This confusion could have been cleared up very easily — and I believe it has been, with our unequivocal statements on the record,” she added.
Pushaw called the Examiner’s headline “inaccurate,” and said DeSantis was not given enough time to respond before the report was published. The Examiner had reported that a split between Trump and DeSantis could have major implications for the 2024 GOP primary.
“The Washington Examiner reporter who wrote it neglected to contact me until an hour before her deadline, and she did not get a comment from the governor’s political team at all before publication,” Pushaw said.
She noted that DeSantis has a duty “to be in Surfside, making sure the families and community have what they need in the aftermath of this tragic building collapse.”
The Examiner spoke to Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington, who issued a statement in defense of the Sarasota rally and Independence Day celebration.
“Like all Americans, President Trump sends his deepest condolences to those who’ve lost loved ones or been displaced by the terrible tragedy in Surfside. The event in Sarasota, however, is on the other side of the state, 3 1/2 hours away, approximately the same distance from Boston to New York, and will not impact any of the recovery efforts,” Harrington told the outlet.
“In fact, President Trump has instructed his team to collect relief aid for Surfside families both online and on-site at the Sarasota rally,” she added.
DeSantis had reportedly planned to attend the Sarasota event prior to the devastating building collapse last week in Surfside.
As of Saturday, 24 people have been confirmed dead in the building collapse, CBS News reported. Meanwhile, 124 people remain missing.
Efforts to search for more potential survivors or to recover other victims could become complicated next week, as Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to impact the area.
Demolition of the still-standing portion of the Champlain Towers condominium building is expected to begin before the end of the weekend, ABC News reported.
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