Ron DeSantis was in Iowa on Saturday and found himself in the spotlight thanks to a last-minute decision by former President Donald Trump to cancel his own rally in the state capital.
The Florida governor was in and around the city of Des Moines this weekend, just a few blocks from where the former president was originally scheduled to speak, chatting with supporters and chatting with local Republican groups, a clear indication of his plans. to run for president in 2024 or in the future.
DeSantis’ visit was once challenged by the former president’s arrival, but Trump cited severe weather in the Midwest in a last-minute cancellation Saturday afternoon. Instead, that bad weather materialized in Oklahoma and Kansas, while the Des Moines area fared well; DeSantis even joked about how nice he was outside during an appearance.
The Florida governor eschewed the mass rally favoring his likely opponent and instead made a handful of smaller appearances, including, according to media reports, at a barbecue restaurant where he stood at a table and addressed a potential voters.
Every aspect of the visit, from the governor’s success in his various venues to the immediate speculation by Trump critics about why he was cancelled, seemed perfectly designed to infuriate the former president who has spent months trying to goad DeSantis into get angry fight.
In fact, Trump’s first message on Truth Social on Sunday after wishing his supporters a unique Mother’s Day greeting was directed at his new rival.
“Rob DeSanctimonious and his poll numbers are dropping like a rock; I would almost be inclined to say that these are unprecedented ‘drops’. The question: Is ‘Rob’ just young, inexperienced and naive or, more worryingly, is he a fool with no idea what he’s doing? We already have one of those in office, we don’t need another. WIZARD!” wrote the former president.
Polls have shown Trump building some support within the Republican Party since the Manhattan district attorney’s office indicted him on 34 criminal charges last month. But DeSantis remains competitive, and most polls indicate that most Americans want someone other than Trump and the Democratic contender, incumbent President Joe Biden, to run.
Trump also continues to face questions about his continued refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election, as well as other legal challenges, such as the Fulton County investigation into election interference in Georgia. He blamed his allies’ ties to those voter fraud conspiracies for the poor performance of many Republican candidates in the 2022 midterm elections.
DeSantis joined critics of the former president’s continued vocal support for the 2020 election conspiracies on Saturday in one of his most direct attacks on Trump yet, telling a crowd: “If we make 2024 a referendum on Joe Biden and their failures and us providing a positive alternative for the future of this country, the republicans will win on all fronts. If we don’t do that, if we get distracted, if we focus on past elections or other side issues, then I think the Democrats are going to beat us again, and I think it’s going to be very hard to come back from that loss.”