DeSantis skips Sarasota Trump rally to focus on Seaside condo disaster

Ahead of a large, campaign-style rally in Sarasota, Florida on Saturday night, former President Donald Trump received the disappointing news that GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis would not be in attendance, as The Hill reported, with the state’s chief executive option to remain focused on recovery efforts at site of the Seaside condo collapse.

Earlier in the week, reports emerged suggesting that DeSantis had strongly urged Trump to postpone the event, given the tragic devastation that had occurred near Miami, though the governor’s office subsequently issued a denial and attempted to quash any rumors of tension between the two camps over the issue.

In a statement from DeSantis’ office last week, his staff explained that he was “focusing on his duties as Governor and the tragedy in Surfside, and has never suggested or requested that events planned in different parts of Florida – from the Stanley Cup finals to President Trump’s rally – should be cancelled.”

Though the governor apparently did not call for the event to be scuttled, DeSantis’ team also informed the media that “the Governor will not attend the rally in Sarasota. He spoke with President Trump, who agreed that this was the right decision, as the Governor’s duty is to be in Surfside making sure all the families and community have what they need in the aftermath of the tragic building collapse.”

DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw added, Governor DeSantis would have gone to this event in normal circumstances. He is sure the rally will draw a big crowd on this holiday weekend, as many Floridians are excited to attend.”

Indeed, Trump did attract a sizable and boisterous crowd to the Sarasota Fairgrounds Saturday evening, and he touched on key issues such as immigration, crime, Critical Race Theory and transgender rights, according to Fox News.

Though Trump has continued to tease a possible run for the White House in 2024, and he has even indicated that he would consider DeSantis as a running mate, he stayed notably silent with regard to Florida’s governor during his 90-minute address to the Sarasota crowd, despite mentioning several other local politicians by name.

DeSantis’ political prospects have skyrocketed over the past year, due in large part to his successful management of the COVID-19 pandemic in his state. Having topped Trump in the Western Conservative Summit’s presidential straw poll earlier this year, many believe him to be a frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2024.

Despite the strong history of mutual support and allegiance between Trump and DeSantis, political realities may put them on a “collision course” in the near future, as Fox News noted, and whether rumors of a rift over the Sarasota rally are a harbinger of things to come or just overblown media hype, only time will tell.