Former President Donald J. Trump will hold a July 4th rally on Saturday night in Sarasota, Florida, across the state, which has been a tragedy for more than a week with firefighters, search dogs and rescue workers searching for Survivors of the collapse of a residential building north of Miami Beach.
The proposed political rally in the midst of a disaster that has horrified the nation has become a topic of discussion among aides to former President and Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Trump ally whose growing popularity is growing among the former President’s supporters, a source of tension for both men, according to the people familiar with their thinking.
After officials from the governor’s office investigated the site of the collapse of the Surfside, Florida condominium, Adrian Lukis, the governor’s chief of staff, called Michael Glassner, a longtime Trump adviser overseeing the Florida incident, according to the discussion. In a brief interview, Mr. Lukis asked if the former president was planning to continue the event given the scale of the tragedy, two people said.
He was told there were no plans to postpone it.
A Mr. Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington said the Sarasota rally was “three and a half hours away, roughly equidistant from Boston to New York and will not interfere with any recovery effort.”
She added that the former president “directed his team to collect supplies for Surfside families both online and on-site at the Sarasota rally,” and said he plans to address the tragedy in his remarks.
Mr DeSantis, who met with President Biden on Thursday when the president was visiting the site of the disaster, originally wanted to attend the rally but no longer plans to do so, aides said. “He spoke to President Trump, who agreed it was the right decision because the governor’s duty is to be in Surfside,” said his spokeswoman Christina Pushaw, adding, “Governor DeSantis would be at the rally under normal circumstances went.” . ”
The governor, an early supporter of Mr Trump, sought to downplay any perceived tensions with the former president, who endorsed his campaign for governor in 2018 and could cause him a political headache if turned against him.
“Governor DeSantis is focused on his duties as governor and the Surfside tragedy and has never proposed or requested that events planned in various parts of Florida – from the Stanley Cup final to President Trump’s rally – be canceled,” Pushaw said afterwards the Washington Examiner reported that Mr. DeSantis had insisted that Mr. Trump postpone his rally.
The recent conversation between Mr. Lukis and Mr. Glassner was not the first time that Mr. DeSantis’s staff had reservations about the timing of Mr. Trump’s event. Before the condominium collapsed, Mr DeSantis’ office had suggested to the Trump team that fall would be a better time to rally, given the dangers of Florida hurricane season, two people familiar with the conversation said.
Mr Trump ignored the proposal. Excluded from Facebook and Twitter, Mr Trump was eager to have his voice heard and was excited to get back on the rally stage, Aides said.
Mr DeSantis is believed to be a senior Republican presidential candidate for 2024 and could run into a political clash with the former president, who himself has hinted that he is considering a third attempt for the White House.
People close to Mr Trump said he was easily suspicious of an alleged ally. He grilled several advisors and friends asking “what Ron is doing” after hearing rumors in Mar-a-Lago that Mr. DeSantis was soliciting donors for a possible presidential election of his own. He asked aides for their opinion on a Western Conservative Summit straw poll for 2024 Republican presidential candidates, an unscientific online poll that showed Mr DeSantis defeated Mr Trump.
And in a comment intended to prove his dominance over both Mr. DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence, he listed Mr. DeSantis as a potential # 2 on his ticket in case he should run again.