Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis ‘make amends’ during private Miami meeting following bitter primary feud

Donald Trump and Florida governor Ron DeSantis have met privately for the first time since their bruising battle in the Republican presidential primaries.

The 77-year-old former US president and Mr DeSantis, 45, appeared to put their bitter feud to one side as they met in Miami on Sunday to talk about how they could work together ahead of November’s election.

The meeting was “set at the request of governor DeSantis”, whose hopes of winning the White House were dashed in the primaries, a Trump campaign official told The Washington Post. Steve Witkoff, a Florida-based real estate broker known to both parties, orchestrated the get-together in Miami, Politico reported.

Mr Trump and Mr DeSantis are believed to have sat for several hours to discuss how they could close the fundraising gap with President Joe Biden ahead of a 2024 election rematch in November. Mr Biden’s campaign has claimed it raised $90m in March, boasting that it was the “highest total amassed by any Democratic candidate in history”.

Mr DeSantis endorsed Mr Trump after dropping out of the presidential race and, earlier this month, told his deep-pocketed donors that he would be fundraising for the former president’s campaign.

Making amends might be beneficial for both Florida residents as it could also improve Mr DeSantis’s image following a brutal primary campaign. The Florida governor hasn’t ruled out a 2028 presidential run.

For almost a year, the ex-president personally attacked his primary rival, branding him with the nickname “Ron DeSanctimonious”. Just two days before the New Hampshire primary on 23 January, Mr DeSantis suspended his campaign.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis earlier this year (AP)
Florida governor Ron DeSantis earlier this year (AP)

Mr Trump was in the crosshairs during a call that Mr DeSantis made to supporters in February. “I think he’s got people in his inner circle who were part of our orbit years ago that we fired, and I think some of that is they just have an axe to grind,” the Florida governor said.

Chris LaCivita, Mr Trump’s top campaign aide, responded by slamming Mr DeSantis as a “sad little man”.

But the latest meeting has been hailed by DeSantis allies.

“It’s a great development and makes perfect sense for Trump, DeSantis and all Republicans,” said Roy Bailey, one of three finance chairs for Mr DeSantis’ primary campaign.

“Gov DeSantis had a really strong volunteer finance team and if we could plug that in and help Trump then that’s what we need to do – and want to do. It’s important to all get together and row in the same direction,” he added.

It comes as more witnesses are expected take the stand on Tuesday as Mr Trump returns to New York for his hush-money trial. He is the first former US president to face a criminal trial. He has pleaded not guilty to all 34 felony counts relating to payments made before the presidential election in 2016 to adult film star Stormy Daniels allegedly to suppress allegations of an affair.

The former CEO of American Media Inc, David Pecker, gave testimony last week about the alleged suppression of stories, known as “catch and kill”, to support Mr Trump.

A second hearing about Mr Trump’s alleged violations of a gag order, which was issued by Justice Juan Merchan to restrict him from publicly speaking about jurors, lawyers, potential witnesses, court staff and their families in the case, will be heard on Thursday.