Trump-DeSantis drama casts shadow on House GOP retreat in Florida

House Republicans head to Florida this week for their annual retreat — straight into the belly of the beast of the 2024 presidential primary campaign.

WASHINGTON — House Republicans will head to Florida this week for an annual retreat. They’ll be right in the middle of the beast that is the 2024 presidential primary campaign.

Former President Donald Trump and the Sunshine State’s Governor are both residents of the Sunshine State. Ron DeSantis is a young conservative star, who has not yet announced his intention to run for president but is making subtle moves to win Trump’s nomination.

Republicans desperately try to avoid the Trump-vs. DeSantis saga during their three-day issues retreat, which begins in Orlando on Sunday. They are fighting to maintain control of their slim House majority and they know that a big, knock-down, drag out fight between the GOP heavyweights could cause divisions in the conference of 222 members and distract them away from this goal.

“I could endorse in primary, but I haven’t endorsed.” “I could endorse, but I haven’t,” Speaker Kevin McCarthy stated last week in Washington.

His members want to keep the public’s attention on their goal of retaining control over the chamber.

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn) stated, “If we don’t have a majority the president won’t do us any favors.”

Democrats need only to flip five House seats, and keep their current seats, to win the majority back in 2024. This is after a stronger-than-expected performance in the November midterms. House Republicans may have an easier task if there is a strong candidate not named Trump. NBC News reported Friday, that New York’s law enforcement officers were preparing for a possible Trump Indictment as soon as this week. Trump called supporters Saturday to protest and “take back our country” if that happens.

This week, Republicans will discuss their messaging and governing strategy at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes, Orlando. They will also debate how their conference will secure spending cuts and avoid a default on debt. The American public will be engaged in numerous oversight investigations into the Biden family and administration.

The retreat will feature panel discussions on everything, from China’s growing threat and border security to energy issues and the economy.

“House Republicans are thrilled to gather for our annual topics conference where we’ll work towards delivering on America’s commitment and creating a nation that is strong, safe, a future built on freedom, and a government that’s accountable,” stated Elise Stefanik (Republican from New York), who organized the retreat with the Congressional Institute.

McCarthy, Steve Scalise (R-La.), Majority Leader and the majority of House Republicans have decided to avoid the upcoming primary fight. However, more than twenty-six House lawmakers are backing Trump. Trump is still very popular with the GOP base and consistently leads his competitors in polls.

Stefanik is one of the people who have endorsed Trump. 4 GOP leader; Rep. Richard Hudson, North Carolina’s House GOP campaigns chief; Rep. Ronny Jack of Texas, Trump’s former White House physician; Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan of Ohio; and conservative Reps. Matt Gaetz, Mary Miller, Illinois, Paul Gosar, Colorado, Lauren Boebert, and Harriet Hageman, all of Wyoming.

When asked what her opinion was of DeSantis’s visit to Iowa’s first-in-the nation caucus state, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), said: “Well, he is the governor of Florida so I don’t know how Florida feels about it. … I’m endorsing President Trump.”

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Florida Republicans, including Reps. Brian Mast and Byron Donalds, Kat Cammack and Neal Dunn, Mike Walz and Corey Mills, flocked to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf resort for the Palm Beach County GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner. The keynote address was delivered by Donald Trump.

DeSantis is generating buzz while he travels the country on a book tour. Many congressional Republicans encouraged DeSantis to run against Trump.

Although he has not made any official announcement regarding a White House bid for the presidency, DeSantis received his first congressional endorsement last week from Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who attended a Florida donor confab for DeSantis.

DeSantis “proved his ability to win the ballot box time after time.” Roy endorsed DeSantis, saying that he provided a positive vision of the future and conservative action with prudent actions when other Republicans were struggling in key races. “The results were clear: Republicans enjoyed historic, sweeping performances across the state.”

A former House Republican lawmaker from Florida, who worked with DeSantis, said Trump is still very popular in his district. However, he noted that DeSantis was praised by both Republican politicians and voters for his aggressive push against Covid restrictions in Florida.

The former lawmaker stated that Trump has demonstrated leadership in the state and people are responding to it. “Where Trump used to hang signs, there are now DeSantis signs.”

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