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Trump: God bless DeSantis, first responders in Florida hurricane response

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Sept. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Former President Trump on Wednesday praised the work of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and other state and local officials for their response to Hurricane Ian, drawing cheers from a Miami crowd at the mention of the governor.

Trump delivered the keynote address at the Hispanic Leadership Conference, hosted by the America First Policy Institute. He opened his speech by expressing condolences to Floridians who lost their lives and homes in the storm last week.

“We also thank God for the Coast Guard, and the National Guard, and law enforcement always, and first responders and countless others who have stepped forward in this time of need,” Trump said. “And God bless our governor and all of the mayors. They’re all working so hard, and they’re heroes, and we’re going to get through this in Florida.”

Trump did not mention DeSantis by name, but the crowd audibly cheered at the mention of “our governor.”

DeSantis spent the day in Fort Myers, Fla., touring hurricane damage with President Biden.

DeSantis is widely viewed as perhaps the most formidable GOP challenger to Trump should the former president seek another term in the White House in 2024.

A survey released last month from Morning Consult and Politico found 52 percent of Republican primary voters would support Trump, followed by 19 percent who said they’d back DeSantis.

But a USA Today-Suffolk University poll released around the same time found DeSantis leading Trump by 8 percentage points among Florida Republican voters, a sign of the governor’s strength in the state.

DeSantis is up for reelection in November, while Trump has repeatedly hinted that he may run for president in 2024 without explicitly revealing his plans.

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