Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis will miss former President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July rally in Sarasota Saturday night and will remain at the site of the Surfside condo collapse, his office said.
“We can confirm that the governor will not attend the rally in Sarasota. He spoke with President Trump, who agreed that this was the right decision, as the governor’s duty is to be in Surfside making sure the families and community have what they need in the aftermath of the tragic building collapse,” press secretary Christina Pushaw said in a statement to The Hill. “Gov. DeSantis would have gone to this event in normal circumstances. He is sure the rally will draw a big crowd on this holiday weekend, as many Floridians are excited to attend.”
People began lining up to see the former president on Friday, camping out at the Sarasota Fairgrounds until today’s rally begins.
Trump, who held his first rally since leaving office in Ohio last week, is scheduled to speak at 8 p.m. with fireworks following his remarks.
Meanwhile DeSantis is staying near Surfside, some 3.5 hours away, continuing to work on the condo collapse there that has killed at least 24 people while 124 remain missing, according to an Associated Press report Saturday.
Half of the building collapsed on June 24 with 56 of the 136 units suddenly pancaking to the ground in the middle of the night.
For the last week, search and rescue units have been sorting through the rubble looking for survivors, including special deployed units from other states and as far away as Israel.
The work has intensified as time passes and with the threat of Hurricane Elsa making its way to the Florida peninsula by the start of the week.
"Our Department of Emergency Management is assuming that that will happen and making the necessary preparations to be able obviously to protect a lot of the equipment. You could potentially have an event out with the building, as well," DeSantis said.
Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington said Trump agrees that DeSantis should remain working on the collapse site and that the rally is on the other side of the state and will not impede rescue efforts.
"Like all Americans, President Trump sends his deepest condolences to those who've lost loved ones or been displaced by the terrible tragedy in Surfside," Harrington told the Sarasota-Herald Tribune. “The event in Sarasota, however, is on the other side of the state, 3 1/2 hours away, approximately the same distance from Boston to New York, and will not impact any of the recovery efforts. In fact, President Trump has instructed his team to collect relief aid for Surfside families both online and on-site at the Sarasota rally,"
DeSantis’ national profile has increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and there is speculation that he could among Republicans seeking the presidency in 2024.
Trump is also weighing another run at the office and would be the second president in history to serve their second term after losing a re-election bid.
Grover Cleveland served as both the 22nd and 24th presidents, serving from 1885-89, and again from 1893-97.
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