DeSantis and Trump disagree over rally plans following Miami condo collapse

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) made a “direct plea” to former President Donald Trump’s team to cancel an upcoming rally in Sarasota in the aftermath of the Surfside condominium building collapse.

“[Trump and his team] need to read the room,” one Florida Republican said of the issue. “The governor is getting tested here as to how far he’s going to be pushed before he breaks rank with President Trump,” the source continued. “The base loves the president. But they equally love Ron. It’s a showdown going on right now.”

DeSantis’ office is pressuring the Trump team to postpone their “Save America” rally scheduled to take place in Sarasota on July 3, some 200 miles away from where search and rescue teams are continuing to pull bodies from rubble after the Surfside condominium collapsed. The current death toll from the collapse stands at 16.

“Nobody wants to cancel,” a source close to Trump said. For now, he and his team are unrelenting. 

Tensions between Trump and DeSantis could quickly become more than contentious, as each continues to eye the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. DeSantis, who has the benefit of claiming that he is campaigning for reelection, has been traveling throughout the country delivering speeches to supporters who have “begged” him to headline their events. Meanwhile, Trump has restarted campaign-style rallies, with the first taking place in Ohio last weekend. 

“[DeSantis] will take measures so that Trump won’t get mad at him,” a Republican consultant said, “but believe me, the more successful you are, with Trump, sometimes makes it worse,” the source warned. 

While Trump and DeSantis have a close relationship, they haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. Both Trump and DeSantis have used the same political strategist, Susie Wiles, for their campaigns in the past. Wiles currently leads Trump’s post-presidency operation and led his Florida campaign in the 2016 general election. She also led DeSantis’ 2018 campaign for governor before the relationship was tarnished. 

“Smartest thing you’ve ever done,” Trump once said of Wiles, after DeSantis hired her to manage his 2018 gubernatorial campaign. However, only a year after bringing DeSantis to victory, Wiles was fired from Trump’s reelection campaign, at the behest of the governor. DeSantis was convinced that Wiles was responsible for an internal communications leak showing how the governor appeared to be selling access to special interests on golf trips. Wiles was also pressured to break ties with Ballard Partners, a top lobby firm in the state, although she has since been reinstated on Trump’s Florida team following his 2020 presidential loss.  

“Because Ron DeSantis doesn’t want [the rally], Wiles is gonna make sure it happens,” a source said. “The governor supports the president, but something awful just happened in the state.” Advisers to the former President, who say they wish to remain anonymous, have been pleading with him to reconsider the rally plan, while other anonymous advisers say they hope DeSantis backs off. Other advisers are downplaying rumors of a ‘rift’ between DeSantis and Trump. 

“It is completely untrue that there is a rift between Gov. DeSantis and President Trump or between their teams,” Helen Aguirre Ferre, the Flordia Republican Party’s Executive Director, said. “Gov. DeSantis knows the Republican Party of Florida is working with the Trump team for the July 3rd rally in Sarasota. In addition, we are encouraging all those who are attending to generously contribute to the victims of the tragedy at Surfside.” Ferre is also a former DeSantis aide. 

Response teams from Israel and Mexico arrived in the US on Tuesday to aid the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s rescue efforts in Miami, and Republican and Democrat elected officials have been at the site. The agency’s search-and-rescue effort has recovered 12 bodies at this point but has not yet slowed down the operation. 

“We’re talking about 150 people that are missing. There’s massive loss of life,” an anonymous aide said. “People are grieving. There’s a lot of confusion. Right now, the governor is down there almost every single day. What, you’re gonna go across and do a rally and beat up Democrats? It’s tone-deaf.”

DeSantis is reportedly ‘very wary’ of upsetting Trump, and is expected to quell his own national ambitions in the wake of the former President should he choose to seek the party’s 2024 nomination.