Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

At a Florida Republican Party gathering held on Ron DeSantis’ home ground, Trump dominates

By HENRY Nov 5, 2023
------ Donald Trump, the former president, welcomes guests at the Florida Freedom Summit on Saturday in Kissimmee, Florida.Getty Images / Joe Raedle

Gov. Ron DeSantis invested time and resources to strengthen the Florida Republican Party, which is now leaning more and more in the direction of former president Donald Trump.

Source : NBC NEWS

Ron DeSantis’ journey to become a serious contender for president began to take shape in 2018 at the Gaylord Palms Resort, which is located a short distance outside of Orlando.

That identical location may have been the catalyst for everything to come apart five years later.

DeSantis faced out against Adam Putnam, the overwhelming favorite in the contest supported by the Republican establishment, in the election for governor of Florida. The two had convened at the Gaylord Palms Resort for a discussion presented by Fox News, even though Putnam was leading in the polls and DeSantis had just secured the backing of the outgoing president, Donald Trump.

DeSantis swiftly rose above Putnam thanks to the Trump support and what was seen to be a strong debate performance that night in 2018. This helped him win the Republican nomination for governor of Florida and laid the groundwork for what would eventually be a 2024 presidential candidacy.

Let’s go back almost five years. The “Freedom Summit” was held at the same hotel on Saturday. It was organized by the Republican Party of Florida, which DeSantis assisted in founding and funding.

——— Campaign memorabilia for the late President Donald Trump at the Florida Freedom Summit on November 4, 2023, in Kissimmee, Florida. Getty Images / Joe Raedle

However, Trump seems to be leading that party right now. He has been disparaging his old political mentor for months, and he leads the other contenders in the Republican presidential field by significant majorities.

Not only is DeSantis losing the presidential contest, but he is also losing his hold on the grassroots Republican base in Florida, which just a year ago gave him the best chance to win reelection in decades.

Samantha Murchie, a 52-year-old New Port Richey, Florida resident, said, “I think I am going to go with Trump for numerous reasons, but I think the biggest one is I want to see him have four years of uninterrupted progress on the agenda, where he doesn’t have to worry about getting re-elected.”

All day long, the convention hall was filled with this emotion, which persisted until about 6:30 p.m., when Trump gave his keynote speech.

Trump said, “You will vote in the most significant election in the history of our country, exactly one year from tomorrow. ” Chants of “we love Trump” erupted in the crowded audience. “We’re going to complete the task we began.”

Early on and repeatedly during the meeting, there was a definite Trump tilt.

The first speaker, former governor of Arkansas Asa Hutchinson, whose chances of winning the presidency are barely in the 1% range, was heckled and jeered when he expressed his belief that there is a “significant likelihood” that Trump would be found guilty of some of the 91 felony charges he is facing in four separate jurisdictions.

As Hutchinson was being jeered and booed by the audience, someone cried, “Go home.”

Soon after, former New Jersey governor Chris Christieβ€”who has established himself as one of Trump’s most ardent opponents among Republicansβ€”started his address to jeers as well.

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who backed Trump earlier last week, had the biggest round of applause during his over 30-minute address when he just mentioned his support for the outgoing president.

The Republican Party in his own state even organized a speaker schedule on Saturday that seemed to be biased against DeSantis. Trump served as the keynote speaker, while the governor spoke in the middle of the day. A group of pro-Trump speakers, including Florida Representatives Byron Donalds and Matt Gaetz, who have both publicly embraced Trump, were positioned between DeSantis and Trump on stage.

———- Speaking at the Florida Freedom Summit in Kissimmee, Florida, on November 4, 2023, is Governor Ron DeSantis.Getty Images / Joe Raedle

Shortly before his 1:30 p.m. address, DeSantis’ campaign managed to pack the house with supporters. Casey DeSantis, who introduced her husband, received loud applause for her comments. DeSantis’ address, which focused on the cultural conflicts that have shaped him politically but began by criticizing Trump for using teleprompters, received equally loud applause.

Can these teleprompters be removed?As he entered the platform, DeSantis said, “I don’t think we need those in Florida.” “You have to talk from the heart.”

A significant number of DeSantis’s supporters were bussed in for his address and were there while he was on stage, but they were absent for the most of the day, giving the impression that the day belonged to Trump.

Most public polls show Trump with a significant advantage, with DeSantis and former governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley essentially vying for second place. Haley’s decision to skip the event due to personal matters was first reported by NBC News on Friday. As a result, DeSantis is the only contender there with any momentum in a GOP race that Trump has dominated.

DeSantis, as other candidates did, met with reporters after he signed his qualifying paperwork to formally appear on Florida’s March 19 primary ballot. He said that the fact that Trump’s team continues to attack him is evidence he is a bigger threat than Haley.

β€œIf you want to look at Iowa, where is the state?” DeSantis said. β€œYou look at how people behave. And Trump’s people are not attacking her. They’re attacking me with $1 million.” 

The morning before the event, Trump’s campaign also announced seven members of the Florida Legislature that had previously endorsed DeSantis were flipping to support Trump. The move had beenΒ anticipatedΒ but was still a blow to DeSantis who, since taking office, has had complete control of the state’s Republican infrastructure.Β 

β€œThis happens in these things,” DeSantis said of the flips. β€œWe have had flips the other way in other states. It’s a dynamic thing. I mean, politicians do what they are going to do. But I would say taking a step back and looking across the country, we have got more endorsements from state legislators than any other candidates by far, like going down in Iowa and New Hampshire, all these places.”

But as DeSantis and Haley hash it out for second place in public polling, Trump spent an hour on stage Saturday night owning both the audience in front of him and furthering the perception that the Republican presidential primary is all but over.

β€œThat is why the No. 1 phrase out there right now is…Trump is right about everything,” he said to a massive applause.



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