Trump golfs with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at the Trump International Golf Club


Former President Donald Trump was spotted golfing with Gov. Ron DeSantis on Sunday after the Florida governor’s name has been mentioned as a top Republican hopeful for the 2024 presidential race as he continued to hit out against a controversy over COVID-19 vaccines.

Trump was pictured having conversations with DeSantis during their outing at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.

The photos of the two men together underlined De Santis’s closeness with Trump as the former president has remained mum on whether he’ll run in 2024 even as Republicans are jockeying for position to take his place atop the party should he decide against another bid.

De Santis has been among the loudest opponent of strict lockdowns and has pressed for Florida and its municipalities to be wide open – a stance that was criticized throughout the pandemic, but one that has gotten a new appraisal in more recent times when Florida’s virus numbers stood up well against states that locked down more severely, like California.

He’s also seemed to skirt controversy over a vaccine-distribution program that had come under a microscope for alleged favoritism in a 60 Minutes report last week. 

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Donald Trump

Former president Donald Trump was spotted golfing in Florida with the state’s governor Ron DeSantis, pictured in the black T-shirt, Sunday morning

Trump is seen walking near DeSantis

Donald Trump

Trump veered sharply from his prepared remarks and instead slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as a ‘stone-cold loser’. He also mocked McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who was Trump’s transportation secretary. Trump claimed that McConnell is a ‘dumb son of a b**ch’ and said he was ‘disappointed’ in his vice president, Mike Pence

De Santis has disputed he favored wealthy neighborhoods and also entered into a special deal with the Publix grocery store chain because of campaign donations from the company – charges De Santis strongly denied in a point-by-point presentation titled FACTS VS. SMEARS, according to the New York Times.

‘We have too many people in this party who don’t fight back’ De Santis told the gathering, the Times reported. ‘You can’t be scared of the Left.’ 

His stridency seems to be paying off – not only in an apparently friendly close friendship with Trump, but also among the GOP faithful. 

De Santis led a poll of Republicans when it came to potential nominees for the 2024 GOP ticket, according to Newsweek in late March, reporting that he garnered 17 percent compared to former Vice President Mike Pence’s No. 2 showing at 16 percent.

Meanwhile, Trump hasn’t said whether he’ll run again in 2024 – a decision that could derail a possible De Santis bid.

On Sunday, Trump was seen taking a few swings while wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ hat. 

Images showed Trump having conversations with DeSantis and a few others during their outing at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach

Images showed Trump having conversations with DeSantis and a few others during their outing at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach

Donald Trump

Trump is seen speaking to another man on the golf course

Sunday’s gathering comes just a day after Trump’s invitation-only speech at his new home inside his Mar-a-Lago resort. Saturday’s speech was the final address of the Republican National Committee’s weekend donor summit in Palm Beach

Sunday’s gathering comes just a day after Trump’s invitation-only speech at his new home inside his Mar-a-Lago resort. Saturday’s speech was the final address of the Republican National Committee’s weekend donor summit in Palm Beach. 

Most of the RNC’s closed-door gathering was held at a luxury hotel a few miles away from Mar-a-Lago; attendees were bused to Trump’s club for his remarks.

While Trump’s advisers had said he would emphasize his commitment to his party and Republican unity, Trump veered sharply from his prepared remarks and instead slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as a ‘stone-cold loser’. He also mocked McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who was Trump’s transportation secretary.

Trump claimed that McConnell is a ‘dumb son of a b**ch’ and said he was ‘disappointed’ in his vice president, Mike Pence.  

Trump was seen taking a few swings while wearing a red 'Make America Great Again' hat

Florida Gov Ron DeSantis

Trump was seen taking a few swings while wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ hat

He said McConnell had not thanked him properly for putting Chao, who was labor secretary under President George W. Bush, in his Cabinet. McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday. 

Trump also took aim at Dr Anthony Fauci, saying the nation’s top infectious disease expert is ‘so full of crap’ because he wants Americans to wear five masks. Trump mocked Fauci for his poor throwing arm, which he demonstrated while throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Washington Nationals baseball game at Nationals Park last season.

He said that Fauci was well-liked by the public simply because he contradicted Trump. Fauci, the nation’s top epidemiologist, has been director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.

Trump also claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine should be named after him as he admonished them to call it ‘the Trumpcine’.

And while Trump’s remarks left some feeling uncomfortable, others stayed silent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich did not defend Trump as he left Palm Beach on Sunday.

‘We are much better off if we keep focusing on the Democrats. Period,’ Gingrich said.

The weekend summit featured DeSantis and Arkansas Sen Tom Cotton, among other early 2024 presidential prospects. In his remarks Friday night, Cotton leaned into the GOP’s culture wars, attacking the Democrats’ positions on transgender youth, voter ID laws and Major League Baseball’s decision to move its All-Star Game to protest Republican voting laws.

DeSantis, who spoke before Trump on Saturday night, also seized on corporations and business leaders who have begun joining the Democrats’ fight against GOP-backed voting legislation moving through state legislatures across the country, including Florida. 

Critics and voting experts suggest the new laws would make it more difficult for Black Americans and Latinos to cast ballots.

DeSantis specifically warned Saturday that there would be ‘consequences’ for business leaders who pressure lawmakers in Florida as they did in Georgia. But neither DeSantis nor Cotton attacked any fellow Republicans.

Meanwhile, the second most powerful Senate Republican, South Dakota Sen Tom Thune, gently condemned Trump’s attack on McConnell.

Trump is seen preparing to take a swing at the Trump International Golf Club Sunday morning

Trump is seen preparing to take a swing at the Trump International Golf Club Sunday morning 

Trump said McConnell had not thanked him properly for putting Chao, who was labor secretary under President George W. Bush, in his Cabinet

Trump said McConnell had not thanked him properly for putting Chao, who was labor secretary under President George W. Bush, in his Cabinet

‘I think a lot of that rhetoric is – you know, it’s part of the style and tone that comes with the former president,’ Thune said on Fox News Sunday.

‘But I think he and Mitch McConnell have a common goal, and that is getting the majority back in 2022. And in the end, hopefully that will be the thing that unites us, because if we want to defeat and succeed against the Democrats and get that majority back, that´s the best way to do it.’

Asa Hutchinson also lashed out at Trump for being ‘divisive’ in his remarks during the GOP fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago.

Hutchinson, the Republican governor of Arkansas, told CNN’s State of the Union host Jake Tapper: ‘Well, anything that is divisive is a concern and is not helpful for us fighting in the battles in Washington and at the state level.’

‘In some ways, it’s not a big deal what he said, but at the same time whenever it draws attention, we don’t need that,’ he continued.

‘We need unity. We need to be focused together,’ he added. ‘We have slim majorities or slim numbers in Washington and we got battles to fight. So we need to get beyond that.’

Also during his appearance Sunday morning, Hutchinson defended his decision to veto a bill banning doctors from treating transgender minors with hormones – a measure that ultimately passed when the Arkansas Congress overwhelmingly overrode his veto. 

The new tension between Trump and establishment-minded Republican leaders comes as GOP officials are trying to play down an internal feud over his role in the party, his commitment to Republican fundraising and his plans for 2024.

Trump is also continuing to insist that the last election was ‘stolen’ from him, repeating false claims that Joe Biden won the election only because of voter fraud.

Such claims ultimately fueled the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Trump speaks with fellow golfers Sunday morning at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach

Trump speaks with fellow golfers Sunday morning at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach 

The new tension between Trump and establishment-minded Republican leaders comes as GOP officials are trying to play down an internal feud over his role in the party, his commitment to Republican fundraising and his plans for 2024

The new tension between Trump and establishment-minded Republican leaders comes as GOP officials are trying to play down an internal feud over his role in the party, his commitment to Republican fundraising and his plans for 2024

Trump is also continuing to insist that the last election was 'stolen' from him, repeating false claims that Joe Biden won the election only because of voter fraud

Trump is also continuing to insist that the last election was ‘stolen’ from him, repeating false claims that Joe Biden won the election only because of voter fraud

GOP officials saw Trump's weekend participation as a sign that he is willing to lend his name to the party. At the same time, he continues to aggressively accumulate campaign cash to fuel his own political ambitions

GOP officials saw Trump’s weekend participation as a sign that he is willing to lend his name to the party. At the same time, he continues to aggressively accumulate campaign cash to fuel his own political ambitions

McConnell and Chao have been particularly critical of Trump’s role in encouraging the insurrection; Chao resigned her post in protest. Pence, meanwhile, presided over a congressional session that certified Biden’s election victory over Trump.

Rep Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, was among 10 House Republicans who joined every Democrat in voting to impeach Trump for inspiring the January 6 attack. Seven Republican senators later voted to convict Trump, even after he had left office.

‘The former president is using the same language that he knows provoked violence on Jan 6. As a party, we need to be focused on the future, we need to be focused on embracing the Constitution, not embracing insurrection,’ Cheney said Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation.

Trump and his allies have already promised to fuel primary challenges against Cheney and those Republicans who supported his impeachment.

And while the Republican National Committee signaled its commitment to Trump by hosting its spring donor summit at his doorstep, Trump’s commitment to the GOP is far from certain.

Earlier in the year, he raised the possibility of creating a new political party. Just a month ago, Trump’s political action committee sent letters to the RNC and others asking them to ‘immediately cease and desist the unauthorized use of President Donald J. Trump’s name, image, and/or likeness in all fundraising, persuasion, and/or issue speech’.

GOP officials saw Trump’s weekend participation as a sign that he is willing to lend his name to the party. At the same time, he continues to aggressively accumulate campaign cash to fuel his own political ambitions.

Trump has accumulated a total of roughly $85million so far, a small fortune that rivals the RNC’s bank account. He has teased the prospect of another presidential run in 2024, but has also positioned himself to play the role of kingmaker for Republicans who may run if he does not.



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