Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held separate rallies in Florida over the weekend as their rift grows ahead of a potential 2024 matchup, The New York Times reports.
Trump, who has not endorsed DeSantis’ re-election bid, held a rally with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in Miami on Sunday.
DeSantis did not attend the rally because he wasn’t personally invited, his allies told the Times.
Trump has privately and publicly groused about DeSantis’ rising star in Republican circles. DeSantis has been the subject of presidential speculation and has amassed over $200 million during his campaign.
Trump did not outright endorse DeSantis during the Miami rally, but told attendees, “you’re going to re-election Ron DeSantis as your governor.”
Trump during another rally in Pennsylvania on Friday hit out at DeSantis over a 96-second black-and-white video released by DeSantis that invokes God 10 times.
“And on the eighth day,” the narrator says, “God looked down on his planned paradise and said: ‘I need a protector.’ So God made a fighter.”
Trump during the rally referred to the governor as “Ron DeSanctimonious.”
He did not repeat the taunt at the Miami rally.
“Mr. Trump has been privately testing derisive nicknames for Mr. DeSantis with his friends and advisers, including the put-down he used on Saturday,” The Times reported. “Trump has expressed reluctance over criticizing the Florida governor too aggressively before the midterms. But some people close to him said the decision to cast Mr. DeSantis as hypocritically pious solidified itself after the governor’s team released a video Friday aimed at infusing his candidacy with a sense of the divine.”
Some Republicans pushed back on Trump’s jab at DeSantis.
“Nothing like trashing a Republican Governor 4 days before Election Day when his name is on the ballot. #team,” tweeted Republican strategist Josh Holmes, a Mitch McConnell ally.
"Trump isn't going to be able to take this one [DeSantis] down with a dumb nickname,” wrote conservative host Matt Walsh. “He better have more than that up his sleeve. Also, nice job launching your public attack against the most popular conservative governor in America three days before the midterms when we're all supposed to be showing a united front."