Republican presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis looks at a group of supporters of former President Donald Trump during a rally in Iowa this weekendJOSEPH CRESS/USA TODAY NETWORK (via REUTERS)
The governor of Florida and Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States, Ron DeSantis, has given a significant turn to his campaign strategy. For the first time, he has declared flatly and unambiguously that his main rival in the primaries, Donald Trump, was defeated in the 2020 elections. “Of course he lost,” he declared in an interview with the NBC television network and broadcast this Monday. . “Joe Biden (Democrat) is the president.”
For months, the Republican candidates for the White House have almost unanimously avoided criticizing Trump or outright rejecting the former president’s conspiracy theories that he was the actual winner of the 2020 election. dilemma: if they do not distance themselves from the former president, they do not present their own profile or make it clear why a voter would have to choose them and not the tycoon. And if they disagree with him, they risk facing the former head of state’s staunch supporters, a huge bloc within the party.
But the months go by, the primaries draw near, and Trump continues to defy logic. He has already been indicted three times: in New York for a case of accounting falsification; in Miami, for illegal possession of classified material, a crime contemplated in the espionage law; in Washington, for trying to rig the results of the 2020 election. Just one of those cases would have seen any other politician fall from grace. Instead, the former president remains unsinkable despite colliding with so many legal icebergs. Each judicial appearance makes him rise in the polls. “I need one more indictment to win the election,” he gloated last week after special counsel Jack Smith filed charges against him for the grand 2020 election hoax and his supporters’ subsequent assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6. of 2021.
According to polls, Trump is light years behind DeSantis, his closest rival. The average of the main polls, according to the RealClearPolitics website, gives him a voting intention among Republicans of 53.7%. The governor of Florida, on the other hand, receives only 15.7%. No other candidate, be it former Vice President Michael Pence or former UN Ambassador Nikki Halley, reaches 10%.
DeSantis’ statements to NBC point to a change in his strategy, in an attempt to close the gap in the polls. For years he avoided directly answering the question of whether he considered that there had been electoral fraud in 2020; in the midterm elections last year he campaigned for candidates who explicitly endorsed the hoax. Now he wants to accentuate one of the arguments that he has been using: that with Trump, the Republicans lose elections over and over again.
A day after the former president returned to court on Thursday, this time in Washington to plead “not guilty” to four charges related to attempts to tamper with the 2020 results, DeSantis declared that the hoaxes spread “have not been proven.” by his rival, according to which the former president was the true winner of the elections.
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But in his public interventions, the governor tries not to totally oppose the man who still maintains immense influence over his party. He refuses to criticize Trump or comment on his legal problems. Like many Republicans, he insists that the judicial system is “politicized.” And he considers that there were “problems” in the elections three years ago.
In his interview for NBC, recorded on Sunday, he listed, among other things, the great facilities for voting by mail -one of Trump’s usual complaints, who for months before the elections assured that the system would facilitate voting-, state laws that authorized that third parties could collect and deposit the ballot of others, or the scant coverage that was given to alleged irregularities by Hunter Biden, the son of the current president.
“I think that people in the media and other places want to behave as if it were the perfect election… I don’t think it was a well-managed election,” DeSantis said in the interview. “But I also think that the Republicans did not stand up. You have to stand up when these things happen.”
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