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Trump racks up Florida endorsements in blow to DeSantis

2023-04-19T23:40:03Z

Donald Trump continued to rack up endorsements in Florida for his presidential campaign on Wednesday, outmaneuvering the state’s Governor Ron DeSantis on his home turf.

Vern Buchanan, co-chair of the state’s congressional delegation became the eighth Florida lawmaker to come out in support of the former president, announcing his endorsement on Wednesday, hours after a personal call from Trump.

“If we want to get our economy back on track, Donald Trump is just the guy to get it done,” Buchanan said.

Trump launched a bid for the 2024 Republican nomination in November, and polls show he is leading the field of declared and as-yet undeclared candidates. DeSantis is expected to launch a run and is in second position in polls.

The string of Trump endorsements, including four in Florida and five in two other states this week, have come as DeSantis faces a barrage of insults on social media and attack ads from Trump’s camp.

“When your calling card is Florida and folks in your own backyard defect that is never a good sign,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican consultant who was a Trump campaign surrogate in 2020. “They have the DeSantis campaign in a vulnerable position.”

DeSantis’ team had asked members of Florida’s congressional delegation to hold off announcing any endorsements, according to a person familiar with the effort. Only one, Laurel Lee, stuck with DeSantis, announcing her endorsement on Tuesday.

Trump contacted the lawmakers personally, inviting them to a dinner at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Thursday night.

A DeSantis aide declined to comment.

A source familiar with DeSantis’ thinking said the wave of endorsements had not persuaded the governor to accelerate his timetable for a presidential announcement. DeSantis is expected to make clear his intentions after the Florida legislature wraps up its session in early May, followed by a more formal campaign launch in June.

DeSantis, the source said, is currently limited by law as to what he can do as a non-candidate and can’t explicitly ask for endorsements. “We haven’t gotten started yet,” the person said.

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Former U.S. President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speak at midterm election rallies, in Dayton, Ohio, U.S. November 7, 2022 and Tampa, Florida, U.S., November 8, 2022 in a combination of file photos. REUTERS/Gaelen Morse, Marco Bello

U.S. President Donald Trump listens to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speak about the coronavirus response during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 28, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria