GREENSBORO, N.C. – Ron DeSantis argued his campaign case to the North Carolina Republican Party on Friday while making only passing reference to the biggest political elephant in the room: Donald Trump’s second indictment.
While not citing Trump by name, DeSantis again decried the “weaponization” of law enforcement and claimed that different standards are being applied to Republicans and Democrats, including “a former Republican president.”
“I think there needs to be one standard of justice in this country,” DeSantis said. “Let’s enforce that on everybody and make sure we all know the rules.”
DeSantis also may have made an indirect jab at Trump. The former Navy lawyer said he would have been court-martialed “in a New York minute” if he had taken classified information home, a comment he directed at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton but which could also be applied to Trump.
Otherwise, DeSantis mostly gave his standard campaign speech, pledging to apply his Florida agenda to the nation as a whole on issues like law enforcement, the economy, and so-called “woke ideology.”
Going local, DeSantis congratulated North Carolina Republicans for their political successes. He also pledged to change the name of Fort Liberty back to Fort Bragg, arguing that “political correctness” persuaded the military to drop the dedication to Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg.
On the day that the Justice Department unsealed the indictment of Trump over his handling of classified documents, most Republican candidates continued to soft-pedal the case against the ex-president and went after law enforcement instead.
‘Endless drama and distractions’
DeSantis, Trump’s closest challenger in most Republican primary polls, spoke to delegates at the North Carolina Republican Party convention.
Trump is scheduled to address the same group on Saturday, two days after he was indicted on charges of improperly removing sensitive classified documents from the White House and obstructing the government’s efforts to get them back.
Another 2024 challenger, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, took to Twitter to say that “this is not how justice should be pursued in our country. The American people are exhausted by the prosecutorial overreach, double standards, and vendetta politics.”
Her tweet also appeared to make a reference to Trump and his legal troubles. “It’s time to move beyond the endless drama and distractions,” Haley said.
During a town hall in New Hampshire, former Trump Vice President Mike Pence called it a “sad day,” and said he had hoped “it wouldn’t come to this.”
Republicans speak out, some call for Trump to drop out
At least one Republican candidate has been more aggressive. Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, said Trump should exit the race because of the nature of the charges against him.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who recently joined the race, told CNN today the case against Trumpis “devastating” and involves “holding to account people who are in positions of responsibility.”
Trump is the first former president to be indicted in federal court. In March, he became the first ex-president to be indicted at any level, as a New York state grand jury charged him in connection with hush money payments to a former mistress.
Trump remains under investigation over the Jan. 6 insurrection and efforts to overturn his loss to Biden in the state of Georgia.
Some Republicans criticized the tepid reaction of most of the 2024 candidates.
Sarah Matthews, a deputy press secretary in the Trump White House, said the details of Trump’s behavior should make the other candidates more critical.
“All the 2024 GOP candidates and Republicans who rushed to defend Trump before the indictment was unsealed seem to have a lot of egg on their faces now,” said Matthews, who testified in the congressional hearings on the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“This indictment is highly detailed and troubling,” she said.
Published: 2023-06-10 05:26:44