Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the top two contenders for the Republican presidential nomination at the moment, have been trading light jabs ahead of the start of the 2024 campaign.
On Wednesday, Trump announced that he would hold a rally for incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on Nov. 6, two days before the midterm elections, but did not include DeSantis on the list of special guests.
News of the rally, announced as part of a last-minute push to rally supporters in states including Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania, came just a few days after a back-and-forth between Trump and DeSantis over the Colorado Senate fight.
Trump urged his supporters not to vote for Colorado’s Republican nominee, Joe O’Dea, because he deemed him too moderate. DeSantis then followed Trump’s move by endorsing O’Dea. And late Wednesday, Trump shared a clip of former Fox News star (and erstwhile Trump antagonist) Megyn Kelly in which she said that Trump would easily crush DeSantis in a Republican primary battle.
“I think Trump sucks up all the energy in every room no matter what. And even someone as skilled a politician and smart policy-wise as DeSantis can’t overcome that,” Kelly said in an Oct. 16 interview with right-wing podcaster Dave Rubin.
But until Trump does announce, potentially freezing the field of 2024 hopefuls, ambitious Republicans including former Vice President Mike Pence, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and many more have been traveling the country undaunted, laying the groundwork for possible bids.
The Democratic opposition research group American Bridge told Yahoo News this week that it is tracking a whopping 21 possible candidates for the nomination, covering everyone from Trump and DeSantis on the populist right of the party to Never Trump Republicans like Rep. Liz Cheney, of Wyoming.
The maneuvering by the two current leading Republicans for the party’s nomination has been underway for months and the tension has been palpable — but rarely makes its way into public.
With only days left in the Florida gubernatorial race, Trump has not endorsed DeSantis for reelection and DeSantis has not sought his endorsement.
“If there is a feud, it is one-sided,” said one Republican close to Trump, indicating Trump doesn’t need to battle DeSantis because of his standing in the party.
Spokespeople for DeSantis did not return a request for comment Thursday. The Republican close to Trump said that every statewide official in Florida was invited to his upcoming rally.