Despite some seeking to create a fissure between former President Donald Trump and surging Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, the governor's Trump rally absence this weekend was not a result of a "feud," according to a spokesman who denounced the "inaccurate reporting."
DeSantis' office squashed rumors the governor and Trump had a falling out over the governor's remaining with the search and rescue operation from last month's condo collapse in Surfside, Florida, the New York Post reported Monday.
"Contrary to inaccurate reporting based on anonymous sources, the governor never suggested canceling the event," DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw announced in a statement, according to the Post. "I'd also like to emphasize that there was never, at any time, a 'plea' from Gov. DeSantis or anyone on his team to cancel or postpone the rally.
"There was never a 'feud' either.'"
DeSantis was forced to miss Trump's Sarasota, Florida, rally Saturday night because "his duty is to be in Surfside working to ensure the families and community have what they need in the aftermath of the tragic building collapse," the statement continued.
Trump told Newsmax's Heather Childers backstage before the rally that DeSantis belonged in Surfside.
"We mutually agreed, and I just thought he's working very hard, he's doing a very good job, and he should be there," Trump told Childers minutes before taking the stage. "I told him, 'you should stay there; this is not that important for you.'
"He of all people should be there."
Champlain Towers South in Surfside collapsed June 24 and the rest of the remaining structure was dropped by explosives in a planned demolition late Sunday night into Monday morning to make the search-and-rescue operation safer and more efficient. There are at least 27 confirmed dead and around 121 estimated to still be missing as workers sift through the rubble.
There has been talk of DeSantis running with Trump in 2024, but a recent conservative poll suggested DeSantis might even be more a popular candidate than the former president. DeSantis' absence Saturday after that poll came out might have fed the rampant speculate of a break between potential 2024 GOP primary rivals.
Also, DeSantis was effusive in his praise last Thursday of President Joe Biden, when the current president visited with Surfside families, workers, and local officials.
"You've been very supportive," DeSantis told Biden in a joint press conference.
At the rally, Trump was adamant the holiday weekend go on – although that stance was directed more toward leftist anti-American activism and the Biden administration shutting down a July 4 fireworks display over Mount Rushmore.
"The mission for all of us here [Saturday night] is to preserve the legacy of July 4, 1776, and to defend our liberty from the radical left movement that seeks to cancel this date, demolish our heritage, and destroy our beloved nation," Trump said during his speech.
"In just five months, the Biden administration has launched an all out assault on everything we cherish and we value under Joe Biden and the left."
Some media noted praise for DeSantis was not prevalent at the rally, while Trump spoke of endorsements of many Republicans in attendance.
DeSantis remains focused on his 2022 gubernatorial reelection before any potential decision on 2024. Trump has also said his decision will wait until after the 2022 midterms.
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