On Friday night, the Republican Party of Florida scrapped plans to require presidential candidates to sign a loyalty oath, siding with former President Donald Trump over Gov. Ron DeSantis in a proxy war that tested the strength of the two rivals’ support in their home state.
Gruters successfully made a motion to remove the loyalty oath language, winning an "overwhelming" margin in a voice vote during the state GOP's executive committee meeting in Orlando.
Pro-Trump forces within the party, led by state Sen. Joe Gruters, argued that this violated national party rules prohibiting changes to candidate eligibility requirements within two years of an election.
This decision exposed deepening divisions within the state party, highlighting the ongoing rivalry between Trump and DeSantis as they both vie for the 2024 presidential nomination.
DeSantis' spokesman, Bryan Griffin, expressed the hope that all Republican candidates would eventually support the party's nominee after DeSantis secures the nomination.
On the same evening of the decision, both Trump and DeSantis delivered speeches in Washington, DC, at separate Christian conservative events.
In August, DeSantis signed the Republican National Committee’s loyalty pledge, a requirement for appearing on the debate stage. Trump, however, has not signed this pledge.
Trump stated that he does not plan to debate other Republican candidates, citing his commanding lead in the 2024 primary field.
The Republican Party of Florida's decision to scrap the loyalty oath has underscored the ongoing rivalry between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis as they both seek the 2024 presidential nomination. The impact of this decision will continue to reverberate in the coming months as the race unfolds.