Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis privately tells donors he plans to fundraise for Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump looks on as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during the Florida Homecoming rally at the BB&T Center. Trump recently became an official resident of the state of Florida.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told donors and supporters at a private retreat last weekend that he plans to help raise money for Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign, according to three sources familiar with the matter. 

DeSantis told his allies about the move to help Trump during a private gathering on Saturday at South Florida’s Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, these people explained. 

“He did say it in front of a group of people at the Hard Rock,” a DeSantis adviser told NBC News.

The person emphasized that DeSantis pledged to support Republicans up and down the ballot — “including presidential” — when he dropped his bid for president. 

DeSantis’ shift comes after he was effectively in a political war with Trump, both before and since the Florida governor dropped out of the primary race in January. It remains unclear if Trump and his team want DeSantis to help them, or have him as an ally, despite the Florida governor’s endorsement of Trump in January

Many of the bundlers who heard from DeSantis at the Hard Rock about the decision will likely follow his lead and start trying to raise money for the former president, according to a fundraiser who was at the event. 

“I would say the majority in the room would now be willing to help Trump,” a DeSantis bundler who was at the recent meeting said.  

Texas businessman Roy Bailey, who was a co-chair of DeSantis’ national finance advisory board, said in an interview on Wednesday that he’s planning to go back to help raise money for Trump, as he did in 2020. 

“I will follow the governor’s lead and I will do anything that he or President Trump ask me to do to help him win this election,” Bailey said. 

“I know where there are DeSantis supporters all over Texas and all over the country that will want to help President Trump. So that’s what I’ll try to make happen,” he added. 

A Trump campaign adviser said they were not aware that DeSantis was going to start raising money from them but added that “everyone should be working towards defeating Joe Biden and electing President Trump.”

DeSantis’ donor retreat happened on the same day as Trump’s biggest fundraiser of the cycle; the campaign said it raised $50.5 million

Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at a campaign stop at Pub 52 on January 15, 2024 in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa. Amidst sub-zero temperatures Iowa Republicans will select their party’s nominee for the 2024 presidential race.

Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images

The two men were longtime political allies after Trump’s endorsement helped DeSantis become governor in 2018. As it became clear DeSantis was considering running against Trump in 2024, the relationship publicly soured, and towards the end of DeSantis’ campaign, both sides regularly trashed the other

Shortly after DeSantis dropped out of the race, Susie Wiles, his former political adviser turned Trump’s campaign chief, posted a quip at the governor on social media: “Bye, bye.” DeSantis famously fired Wiles after she helped run his first gubernatorial campaign, adding a layer of personal rivalry to the feud. 

In February, DeSantis shared his concerns with supporters about Trump, noting he believed the former president should not play “identity politics” when picking a 2024 running mate. Trump’s campaign subsequently ripped DeSantis. 

Still, for Trump, getting DeSantis’ help could be a benefit as the former president has been behind President Joe Biden in fundraising.

DeSantis’ finance committee is full of fundraisers with massive networks that could help raise money for Trump. 

Emil Henry, the CEO of Tiger Infrastructure Partners, was a member of DeSantis’ national finance board. Others on the finance committee included Republican donors John Childs, Jay Zeidman and Bob Giuffra. 

The Trump campaign’s announcement that it raised $50.5 million at investor John Paulson’s home on Saturday was a single event record. That money would go to Trump’s campaign, the Republican National Committee, a political action committee paying Trump’s legal bills and over a dozen state party committees. 

Biden announced his campaign and a collection of Democratic committees raised more than $90 million in March alone. 

Trump and Republicans have acknowledged they are likely going to be at a money disadvantage throughout the 2024 cycle.

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