DeSantis to forgo Trump rally in Sarasota

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisDemocrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms California dreaming did not become reality for Republicans Florida landlord requiring proof of vaccinations from tenants MORE (R) will not be attending former President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE’s rally in Sarasota, Fla., on Saturday amid ongoing recovery efforts following the deadly condo building collapse in Surfside, Fla.

“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.

“Governor 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,” she added.

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The news of DeSantis skipping the rally was first reported by The New York Times.

The governor's office had earlier this week pushed back on a report that said it urged Trump's team to postpone the rally due to ongoing recovery efforts in Surfside.

Dozens of people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the building collapsed. Officials have confirmed that at least 22 people died, and President BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Did President Biden institute a vaccine mandate for only half the nation's teachers? Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE visited the area on Thursday to mourn with the families of those impacted.

DeSantis "is focusing on his duties as Governor and the tragedy in Surfside, and has never suggested or requested that events planned in different parts of Florida — from the Stanley Cup finals to President Trump’s rally — should be canceled," the governor's office said in a statement Wednesday, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

"He wants all Floridians to enjoy the holiday weekend and celebrate Independence Day however they choose, while keeping the Surfside families and first responders in their prayers," the statement added.

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Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington argued that the rally was far away enough from the site of the disaster that it would not distract from the rescue efforts, the Herald-Tribune reported.

"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 said, according to the newspaper. 

"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," she added.

DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential contender, appeared alongside Biden during his visit to Florida this week, with the president thanking the GOP governor and other Republican and Democratic leaders for their work following the building collapse, saying, "Everybody's on the same team."