Both Mr Trump and Mr DeSantis attended the Florida Freedom Summit at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee outside Orlando on Saturday. They were joined by some of their fellow 2024 presidential candidates – former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, and biotech entrepreneur turned anti-woke campaigner Vivek Ramaswamy.
After each of them filed to be on the ballot in the 2024 Florida primary, the candidates addressed the gathered audience of GOP adherents.
Mr Trump, who is expected to win the Republican nomination even amid his deepening legal woes, predictably garnered the most attention at the event.
“My people said, ‘Sir, don’t hit him,’” Mr Trump said regarding the Florida Governor and his former ally turned adversary. “‘He’s a Republican.’ I said, ‘I don’t care if he’s a Republican.’ And we hit him hard and now he’s like a wounded falling bird from the skies.”
Mr Christie, who’s waging what’s seen by many as a kamikaze campaign to take down Mr Trump, faced the audience’s wrath immediately after entering the stage, with the booing continuing throughout his 15-minute speech, according to CBS News.
“Your anger against the truth is reprehensible,” he told the crowd. “You can go and boo about it as much as you like, but it doesn’t change the truth and the truth is coming.”
“I assume that you’re yelling for $33tn in debt,” Mr Christie told the audience. “It must be one of the things you’re for. You’re probably for it. Because you won’t be here to pay for it. But our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be here to pay for it.”
Later in the evening, Mr Trump noted: “I heard they booed Christie off the stage today.”
Ahead of being bashed by the former president, Mr DeSantis was cheered by the crowd as he was introduced by his wife.
“In Florida, we fight for you,” he said. “In Florida, we win for us, and in Florida, we lead the state to a better future. That’s what we’ve pledged and that’s what we’ve delivered.”
Mr Trump was the final speaker of the night, with some attendees telling CBS News that they had paid the $125 entrance fee only to see the ex-president and a man selling merchandise outside the event telling the network that he was easily getting rid of his Trump items while discounting his DeSantis products.