Politics

Ron DeSantis is now expected to speak at the Republican National Convention, AP source says

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is now planning to address former President Donald Trump's nominating convention next week, an apparent reversal from just one day earlier when he was expected not to give a speech.

DeSantis' speaking role at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee was confirmed Wednesday by a person familiar with the schedule who spoke on condition of anonymity because the schedule has not yet been released.

Once allies turned rivals during this year's Republican primary, Trump and DeSantis have tried to achieve a détente that benefits both of them. But there are lingering tensions between their camps — and long memories in Trump's orbit about the hazards of elevating a former primary opponent to the convention stage.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who ran against Trump in a similarly bitter GOP race eight years ago, famously gave a speech at the 2016 Republican convention in which he declined to endorse Trump by name and instead told voters to follow their consciences. Cruz exited the stage to a chorus of boos.

But DeSantis quickly endorsed Trump by name after finishing a distant second to him in Iowa. DeSantis aides said they had repeatedly been advised that he would have a speaking role and had no reason to believe he wouldn’t, though they were unable to confirm a speaking slot Wednesday.

NBC News first reported DeSantis would be on the RNC schedule.

DeSantis was already planning to be in Milwaukee during the convention, and was planning to headline a Moms for Liberty town hall event and is scheduled to appear with fellow governors at the “Southern States Fest” at American Family Field.

Since February, Trump has taken control of all aspects of the Republican National Committee and the convention, installing his top lieutenants in party leadership, rewriting the party platform and closely scrutinizing who will speak.

Allowing DeSantis a speaking spot demonstrates how far the two have come since last year when Trump mocked his challenger as “DeSanctimonious" and the Florida governor campaigned against the former president as not having delivered on key priorities.

DeSantis has headlined fundraisers in Fort Lauderdale and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for Trump’s candidacy, and is scheduling September events in Texas.

Trump phoned into the Fort Lauderdale event in May, when DeSantis and his top fundraisers spent the day reaching out to his top donors, praising DeSantis, saying “Ron, I love that you’re back,” according to people present.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who remained in the race against Trump into March, was not invited to speak in Milwaukee, though she has said she will vote for Trump and has moved to release delegates she won to support Trump at the convention.

In a radio interview Wednesday morning, Trump made a distinction between his two former rivals.

“You know, there was a lot of bad blood there,” he said of Haley, his former U.N. Ambassador. “She stayed too long. She was being soundly defeated at every place, but she just wouldn’t leave.”

DeSantis, on the other hand, ended his campaign and endorsed Trump shortly after losing his first primary.

“He left after Iowa because he said there was no way he could win,” he said on Fox News Radio.

He also dismissed the idea that reconciling with Haley could help him win over the moderate voters. Some continued to back her even after she had ended her candidacy.

“No. They’re not going to vote for Biden,” he said. “They’re going to vote for Trump.”

___

Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this report. Beaumont reported from Des Moines, Iowa.

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