DeSantis ‘very careful’ to upset Trump

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Donald Trump

“It makes it difficult to start the campaign openly because [Trump] is at least considering running again, “said Saul Anuzis, former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, warning that the election cycle was” early “. “It keeps activists on the sidelines.”

DeSantis, who has the advantage of claiming to be running for re-election, continues to receive awards for opening Florida to the coronavirus pandemic earlier than most major states. His frequent appearances on Fox News put him in the country’s spotlight almost every night. Last weekend, DeSantis beat Trump 74-71 in the annual straw poll of the Western Conservative Summit in Denver – results that surprised even the summit organizers. Last year, Trump won the same straw poll with almost 95 percent support.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis arrives to address a press conference. | Joe Raedle / Getty Images

The governor’s supporters say he is aware of the dangers of apparently rising too quickly. A Republican adviser close to the governor, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely about DeSantis and Trump, said the governor was “very careful” to stir up the former president’s anger.

“He will take steps to keep Trump from getting mad at him, but believe me, the more successful you are with Trump, it sometimes makes it worse,” the adviser said. “It’s a strange place to be safe.”

Trump is scheduled to hold a campaign-style rally on July 3 in Sarasota, Florida, one of a series of public events aimed at building the former president’s reputation ahead of a possible 2024 presidential election. A Trump official planning the Florida rally told POLITICO that the DeSantis team had been contacted about the rally, but the governor’s office has not returned a request for comment on whether or not he will attend .

Trump remains the leader of the Republican Party, demanding loyalty from his members, and staying active in conventions and statewide races as he weighs a comeback in 2024. But at 42 DeSantis represents a young, fresh face who pursues a similar conservative policy, but with arguably more discipline than the former president. DeSantis has even started getting help from prominent Trumpworld figures, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who joined the governor on a west coast fundraiser that included stints in Las Vegas and southern California.

But the biggest question remains whether DeSantis dwarfs the former president and that in turn provokes Trump. The former president in April took note of both DeSantis’ political rise and appeared to be choking the governor’s dreams of 2024 when he told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo that he was considering DeSantis as his vice president for 2024.

“He’s a friend of mine. I endorsed Ron and after I endorsed him he took off like a rocket, “said Trump. “Lots of people like this – you know, I’m just saying what I read and what you read – they love this ticket … Ron would surely be considered. He’s a great guy. “

Meadows told the Washington Examiner in an interview released earlier this week that he doesn’t expect DeSantis to challenge Trump if the former president officially enters the race.

“Aside from that, Governor DeSantis doesn’t even get – he gets asked over and over again every time I’m in his presence – he was asked, ‘Can you 2024?'” Said Meadows, who is now for. works for the Washington-based Conservative Partnership Institute, a group DeSantis met on Wednesday afternoon on a schedule released by his office.

Others in Trump’s circle also downplay DeSantis’ national ambitions, saying he is focused on his re-election as governor in 2022.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 28: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (L) speaks during a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on April 28, 2020 in Washington, DC.  Trump met with DeSantis to discuss how Florida plans to gradually reopen the state after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo by Pool / Getty Images

“Ron DeSantis is not focused on the ups and downs of 2024, but on making the state of Florida a success,” said David Bossie, head of Citizens United and former deputy campaign manager for Trump. “That means focusing solely on his re-election in 2022. He doesn’t let the chatter class distract him.”

Florida State MP Anthony Sabatini, one of the biggest Trump supporters of the GOP-led legislature, said the former president’s influence on the jockey in early 2024 sparked a secret presidential campaign process.

“The reality is that right now everyone has to run these types of secret or indirect presidential campaigns,” Sabatini said. “Of those who try, I think DeSantis did the best job.”

Many Florida politicians point out the irony of the situation. Trump is largely responsible for raising DeSantis’ profile and helping him secure the governorship three years ago. Trump’s first sponsorship in 2018 helped DeSantis beat former Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who was himself a former Congressman backed by Florida’s entire Republican political establishment and a strong favorite at the start of the race. As governor, DeSantis has consistently pushed forward laws appealing to the conservative grassroots and Trump, including a move aimed at governing big tech and a law restricting some voting rights in the state.

The two men couldn’t be more different, however. Trump, a billionaire, has been a staple of reality television and the tabloids for years, promoting himself as one of the world’s most successful businessmen, while DeSantis is a civil servant whose only source of income is his taxpayer-funded annual salary of $ 134,000 is.

However, others see that Trump’s position may be weakened as much of the nation goes beyond his presidency.

“Donald Trump was not as strong in his position as he was last year, which is getting a lot of attention and reporting on us from many news organizations,” said Jeff Hunt, vice president of public policy at Colorado Christian University, who also helped organize the Western Conservative Summit last week in Denver where DeSantis won the straw poll. “It is very clear that Trump has strong control among the Conservatives at the grassroots level, but what people are looking for is Trump presidential policy but with a fresh face, and Ron has done a good job of making things like contact With the media and the grassroots, conservatives appreciate that. “

“I think they are looking for this next step and this next generation,” he added.

Meridith McGraw contributed to this story.

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