August 13, 2022

Trump and DeSantis are fighting for the heart of the GOP in Florida

“If I announce that I will not run for office, the harassment of Donald Trump will stop immediately,” Trump said at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit. “But that’s what they want me to do. And you know what? There’s no way I’m going to do it.

Many Recently Surveys Republican voters have shown a shift away from Trump and toward DeSantis. Governor of Florida, who repeated Also focused on his 2022 re-election bid He beats Trump in fundraising.

In Hollywood, Fla., on the state’s Atlantic coast, the Republican Party of Florida held its annual Sunshine Summit, a two-day event largely funded by money DeSantis raised for the Florida GOP. State Republicans, including DeSantis, gathered at Seminole Hard Rock, where some of the state’s most prominent Republican officials conducted formal party business yards away from bikini-clad hotel guests and gamblers playing slot machines.

About 250 miles away, in Tampa, the conservative student organization Turning Point USA held a summit that featured speeches by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.), Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham and Trump, et al. The former president’s appearance came a day after he held a rally in Prescott, Ariz., to support Cary Lake in his bid for governor there.

“We’re going to take back our freedom,” Trump said during his nearly two-hour speech in Tampa. “We’re going to take back our freedom. We’re going to take back our destiny. We’re going to take back, soon, Our country.”

The audience for Trump’s event was mostly young people from around the country, and they clapped and cheered throughout his speech. Although he did not reveal any details, he received his biggest round of applause when he hinted that he would contest the election.

“All this corrupt establishment does to me is protect their control over the American people,” Trump told the 5,000 crowd. “They want to damage me in any form so that I can no longer represent you. Obviously, they want me not to be a candidate because they won’t talk about anybody.

DeSantis addressed the same Tampa crowd on Friday.

The Florida Republicans’ event in Hollywood was much smaller than the Turning Point convention and heavily influenced by DeSantis.

For the first time in the event’s seven-year history, it limited which media could attend. Traditional party figures have been replaced by conservative social media influencers who have recently moved to Florida and become DeSantis’ most vocal supporters, conservative commentator Dave Rubin and Fox News personality Lisa Boothe among them.

“We in the state of Florida are not going to allow the traditional media to be involved in our primaries,” DeSantis said at the opening of a Florida GOP event on Saturday. “I’m not going to have a bunch of left-wing media asking questions of our candidates.”

DeSantis, who rode a Trump endorsement in 2018 to win his party’s nomination for Florida governor, has seen his popularity soar, as evidenced by his fans, and a potential clash between the two is one of the main tension points within national Republican circles. State Republic program.

“I love President Trump, but he’s a thug the Democrats are using to run against him. Without him, they have nothing. No platform,” said Sunshine Summit attendee James Lefebvre, sitting at one of the Hard Rock restaurants, asking passersby if they would support DeSantis for president.

“I want an ass for president, I really do, so that has nothing to do with it,” he added. “I think DeSantis can bring people together a little bit more, and without him the Democrats have nothing.”

DeSantis’ choices at the state level resonated with him and conservatives nationally, especially as Florida’s Republican-led legislature pushed to strip Disney of its self-governing status, expressing opposition to legislation banning DeSantis’ lessons on gender identity. Sexual orientation in classrooms through third grade. Opponents have branded the bill a “don’t say gay” bill.

However, Trump’s presence over the state, which he won by more than three points in 2020, has not gone without. Even those who support DeSantis running in 2024 won’t lash out at the former president. Despite daily negative news about the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol that left at least five dead, Republicans still don’t want to give up on Trump.

Diana Jimenez, a 25-year-old New Jersey resident who attended the Tampa Turning Points USA event, said she was inspired by DeSantis but not ready to support him for president.

“I was so close to him that I had to talk to him personally,” he said. “I don’t think he should go to DC, he should stay here.”

Instead, Trump said he should run for president.