Thanks to his landslide re-election win last year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis felt he was popular enough to run for president in 2024.
— 🍟 Chen Fang (@chenbfang) May 24, 2023
At the time, he was polling strongly in second place, behind President Trump and ahead of former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.
Since then, he has been slipping in the polls and was hoping to gain some ground over the weekend at the “Florida Freedom Summit,” where he took the stage with President Trump for the first time.
Trump flexed on DeSantis by bringing all the Florida legislators who flipped their endorsement from DeSantis to Trump on stage right after DeSantis gave his speech.
BREAKING: Former President Trump brings all the Florida legislators who flipped their endorsement from DeSantis to him up on stage right after DeSantis spoke. pic.twitter.com/GU7IUuLEHv
— Leading Report (@LeadingReport) November 4, 2023
Trump also joked about DeSantis crying while begging for his endorsement.
Florida audience laughs while Trump tells his story about how DeSantis had tears flowing from his eyes and does an impression of DeSantis begging for his endorsement pic.twitter.com/MpBVCJMvDl
— Acyn (@Acyn) November 4, 2023
“This race is over, and people are basically trying to decide whether they want to join the winning team,” said state Sen. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican and staunch Trump supporter.
That Trump is besting DeSantis in his home state is light-years from the governor’s moment of triumph just one year ago, when he won a resounding reelection victory and was one of the brightest Republican stars in the nation.
Since then, DeSantis has failed to live up to the high expectations set for him. Trump continues to dominate the GOP field, with national and early state polling showing Trump ahead by wide margins and DeSantis’ numbers mostly declining.
DeSantis never said Trump’s name during his remarks in the middle of the day, other than joking about how he didn’t need a teleprompter and alluding to “some Republicans” who opposed his Covid policies.
DeSantis for months has criticized Trump for relying too heavily on Anthony Fauci during the pandemic, and in recent days he piled on Trump — who typically jumps from one topic to another when he speaks — for using a teleprompter.
UNREAL: Ron DeSantis tells staff to "get rid of these teleprompters" because "you've gotta speak from the heart."
Ron then proceeds to read his speech from papers on the podium…
Bring Back Trump😂🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/ts0sUMUE81
— Bo Loudon (@BoLoudon) November 4, 2023
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, one of Trump’s top Florida allies, boasted Saturday that those who’d flipped for the former president were “excited” by the change. “There’s a certain energy that you get when you’re on Team Trump, and a few folks are feeling it for the first time,” he said.