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Trump racks up Florida endorsements in blow to DeSantis


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