Donald Trump Says Ron DeSantis Has 'Duty' to Be at Surfside, Not Sarasota Rally

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will not attend a rally with former President Donald Trump on Saturday due to the ongoing search for survivors following the collapse of a 12-story building in Surfside on June 24.

Trump is holding a rally in Sarasota, more than 200 miles from the scene of the tragedy, Champlain Towers South near Miami Beach. The former president has reportedly advised DeSantis, a Republican, that his responsibility is to the rescue effort.

The New York Times White House Correspondent Annie Karni reported the development early on Saturday ahead of the planned event, due to begin at 8 pm EDT.

"Just in from @GovRonDeSantis office — Governor will not attend the Trump rally in Sarasota," Karni tweeted.

"He spoke with Trump, 'who agreed that it was the right decision, because the Governor's duty is to be in Surfside.'"

DeSantis' press secretary, Christina Pushaw, confirmed that the governor would not be attending the rally in a statement to The Hill.

"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," Pushaw said.

"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 said.

DeSantis' office had earlier this week denied reports that he had pushed for the cancellation of the rally. In an article on June 30, The Washington Examiner cited an unnamed Florida Republican who said the governor had "made a direct plea" to Trump's team on the matter.

The governor's office pushed back on the report on Wednesday, saying in a statement that 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."

Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington said on Wednesday the former president "sends his deepest condolences to those who've lost loved ones or been displaced by the terrible tragedy in Surfside.

"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," Harrington said.

The death toll from the collapse of Champlain Towers South now stands at 24 and rescue teams have faced difficulties in their efforts to find survivors. One team was forced to demobilize due to COVID-19 infections.

Newsweek has asked Governor DeSantis' office for comment.

Updated 7:34 PM ET, with the death toll now at 24.

Ron DeSantis Appears with Donald Trump
Then Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis speaks with U.S. President Donald Trump at a campaign rally at the Pensacola International Airport on November 3, 2018 in Pensacola, Florida. Governor DeSantis will not attend a Trump rally in Florida on Saturday. Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images