Trump Meets DeSantis Seeking to Tap Ex-Rival’s Donor Connections

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis met on Sunday to discuss the possibility of tapping DeSantis’ donor network, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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The Miami meeting is a sign of rapprochement between the former president and his one-time opponent after a period of rocky relations, heightened by Trump’s attacks on DeSantis during the Republican primaries. DeSantis, once considered a potent candidate, dropped out in January.

Reaching into DeSantis’ donor pipeline could shore up funds for the presumptive Republican nominee as Trump faces a cash drain from the legal costs of his array of court cases. At the same time, President Joe Biden’s campaign widened its fundraising lead over Trump in March, raising more than $90 million.

As of April 21, Trump had just $6.8 million in the accounts he’s been using to fund his lawyers. That could drive him to tap funds from other sources to cover upcoming bills and bankroll his campaign.

Trump and his campaign are expected to hold a retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, this week with about 400 donors and several vice presidential hopefuls.

Trump’s campaign and DeSantis’ office didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday.

DeSantis has proven fundraising power with a network that includes hedge fund billionaires Ken Griffin and Paul Tudor Jones. In 2022, he raised more than $217 million for his gubernatorial reelection, a record, according to OpenSecrets. Aerospace and real estate entrepreneur Robert Bigelow was the biggest donor to both DeSantis’ gubernatorial and presidential campaigns. He gave $5 million to Trump’s allied super-PAC in March.

DeSantis’ fundraising connections also include members of a national finance board he announced in late 2023 such as Roy Bailey, CEO of Bailey Deason Capital Interests LLC and a former national co-chair of Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign.

The Trump-DeSantis meeting was first reported by the Washington Post.

The Florida governor and Trump were allies before their competing presidential bids. After DeSantis dropped out of the presidential race, he endorsed Trump and described him as the preferable candidate. Trump then said he would retire the nickname “DeSanctimonious,” one of the go-to insults he used during the campaign.

--With assistance from Bill Allison.

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