There are increasing signs that Donald Trump is losing key supporters to Ron DeSantis: In a further indication of Ron DeSantis’s increasing gains over Donald Trump in the zero-sum game of electoral support, a gathering of DeSantis’s top donors and supporters last weekend in Palm Beach, Florida featured some people who were previously committed to Trump.
Donald Trump Should Be Worried
The gathering was a three-day retreat held at the Four Seasons hotel, which happens to be only a few miles from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
The event, which hosted 150 people, was billed as a promotion of the “Florida blueprint,” which DeSantis is hoping to extrapolate to the entire United States.
Personally, I think the “Florida blueprint” or the “Florida vibe” or the “Florida ethos” or whatever you want to call it should be contained strictly to Florida.
But Republicans – including major GOP players who formerly backed Trump – are excited about the prospect of DeSantis reproducing his Florida efforts on a larger scale.
“People spotted at the opening night of the conference included Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson,” Politico reported. “Johnson has long been a staunch Trump ally.”
Also in attendance was Arizona Republican Jim Lamon, who ran unsuccessfully for a Senate seat last fall on a platform fully aligned with former President Trump. After losing his race, Lamon stuck to the Trump playbook and claimed victory.
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton was there, too. Cotton was a long-time Trump ally, close enough that Trump once considered Cotton for CIA director. But Trump excommunicated Cotton after he voted to certify Biden’s 2020 election victory.
What Does This All Mean for Donald Trump?
One of the more symbolically significant attendees at DeSantis’s gathering was Trump’s former chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. “Mulvaney left the administration following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, and he has harshly criticized the former president over his decision to wage a 2024 comeback, saying Trump is ‘the only Republican who could lose’ the election,” Politico reported.
It’s no surprise to see Mulvaney arrive in the DeSantis camp, although it does represent a (somewhat) internal refutation of Trump.
Roy Bailey attended, too. Bailey is a longtime Texas fundraiser who was central to Trump’s campaign finance committee.
The event also featured DeSantis’s peers: Republican governors Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma and Bill Lee of Tennessee.
“Gov. Stitt believes Ron DeSantis has done an excellent job leading as Florida’s governor, especially through COVID, supporting law enforcement, reforming education and supporting parental rights,” Carly Atchison, a Stitt spokeswoman, said.
Here Comes Ron
The three-day event further served to increase DeSantis’s national profile in anticipation of what should be an imminent announcement to run for president. The event isn’t the only profile-raising tactic DeSantis has employed lately.
He is also about to drop a new book (basically a prerequisite for a presidential run) called ‘The Courage to Be Free.’ The title is dreadful, and I doubt very much the book itself is much better. But DeSantis has been generating (new) headlines thanks to the book release. He even appeared on Fox recently to discuss the book.
Actually, the book release has also served to show who else is in DeSantis’s corner: Rupert Murdoch, who has used his various media outlets (Fox News, New York Post) to promote the book favorably. The New York Times on the other hand, was less receptive to DeSantis’s literary effort, calling The Courage to be Free “courageously free of anything that resembles charisma, or a discernible sense of humor.”
No surprise there.
DeSantis is visibly stiff and certainly appears to be humorless. Maybe he was able to loosen up and joke around last weekend, however, with his gathering full of former Trump backers.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.