Economy 29-04-2024 01:02 7 Views

Trump and DeSantis meet privately in Florida

Former president Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis met privately Sunday morning in Miami, according to people familiar with the matter, breaking a years-long chill between the presumptive Republican nominee and his onetime chief primary rival.

Allies brokered the meeting in hopes of a potential détente between the two men, and Trump’s advisers hope DeSantis will tap his donor network to help raise significant sums of money for the general election, the people familiar with the matter said. Like others interviewed for this story, the people spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private deliberations.

The pair met for several hours and DeSantis agreed to help Trump. The meeting was friendly, according to a person with direct knowledge.

Trump and allied groups have lagged behind President Biden and his allies in the money chase. DeSantis has built a wide network of wealthy patrons whose assistance would be valuable in helping Trump try to close the gap, and is popular with some Republican voters who are exhausted by Trump.

There is an incentive for DeSantis to form a closer relationship, as well. People close to DeSantis have said it is untenable for him to continue to have a strained relationship with Trump, particularly as he eyes his political future. He is widely viewed among Republican donors and consultants as weakened after a shellacking by Trump in the primary.

The meeting was orchestrated by Steve Witkoff, a Florida real estate investor and developer both men know, and he attended. Witkoff called the former president’s team and asked for him to meet with DeSantis, a person familiar with the matter said.

Trump and DeSantis had not spoken since the end of a bruising primary season, where DeSantis dropped out after a disappointing finish in Iowa, following months of attacks from Trump and his supporters. DeSantis offered a video endorsing Trump on the day he left the race.

“It’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance,” DeSantis said in the video he posted that Sunday afternoon on the social media site X. “They watched his presidency get stymied by relentless resistance, and they see Democrats using lawfare to this day to attack him.”

But DeSantis has not campaigned for Trump or helped him since, and in fact has made backhanded criticisms of Trump. DeSantis was stung by how Trump and his team treated him during the primary, people close to the Florida governor said.

In a call with supporters in February after dropping out, DeSantis said Trump had political baggage and criticized some in Trump’s orbit.

“I think he’s got people in his inner circle who were part of our orbit years ago that we fired, and I think some of that is they just have an ax to grind,” DeSantis said. The comments angered Trump’s team.

At the time, Chris LaCivita, a top aide to Trump, called DeSantis a “sad little man.”

DeSantis is widely loathed inside Trump’s orbit, but the former president has shown a willingness to be forgiving and remarkably transactional when it benefits him.

“Will I be using the name Ron DeSanctimonious?” he said after DeSantis endorsed him. “I said that name is officially retired.”

The two men have never been personally close, but Trump endorsed DeSantis in 2018 for governor of Florida — and once viewed him as a rising star in the party.

In recent weeks, DeSantis held an event for donors at a resort in Florida, and people close to him said he is potentially interested in running for president again in 2028. During the Republican primary, Trump told advisers he wanted to hurt DeSantis for 2028, too. But he has moved his focus on to Biden and his criminal trial in recent weeks, and Trump allies say he would favorably view DeSantis raising money for him.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post
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