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Ron DeSantis punches Donald Trump from the right; Ex-president eyes general election – NBC 6 South Florida

Ron DeSantis punches Donald Trump from the right;  Ex-president eyes general election – NBC 6 South Florida


During his first week on the campaign trail as a presidential candidate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis repeatedly hit out at his main rival, Donald Trump, from the right.

He’s a different guy from 2015, 2016, DeSantis told a conservative radio host before criticizing the bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation that Trump has championed as essentially a jailbreak bill “that allowed dangerous people to get out of prison.

He also accused Trump of handing over the reins “to Dr. Anthony Fauci during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Trump approved and attempted to pass “an amnesty bill” through Congress, and swore that, unlike the former president, he would finish building the U.S. -Mexican border wall.

In Iowa on Saturday, he hit back at Trump for saying he didn’t like the term woke because people have trouble defining it. Woke is an existential threat to our society, DeSantis said. “To say it’s no big deal just shows that you don’t understand what a lot of these issues are right now.

Trump, meanwhile, has repeatedly attacked DeSantis from the left. He suggested that even anti-abortion activists consider Florida’s new six-week abortion ban too harsh and argued that DeSantis made himself ineligible nationally with his votes as a congressman to reduce the Social Security and Medicare, although Trump has also offered budgets on several occasions. called for significant reductions in duties.

The attacks underscore the underlying early dynamics of the race: as DeSantis tries to win over GOP primary voters and narrow Trump’s lead, Trump is already swinging into a general election showdown against President Joe. Biden. Meanwhile, Trump has pushed back against DeSantis’ argument that the Florida governor, not the former president, is the most viable candidate in the general election.

“Remember, we have to win the election,” Trump stressed at a Fox News Channel town hall Thursday as he discussed abortion politics.

To be clear, Trump has also leaned into other right-wing causes. This week, he renewed his pledge to end birthright citizenship, saying he would sign an executive order on the first day of his second term to change the long-established interpretation of the 14th Amendment. He also renewed his commitment to using the US military to attack foreign drug cartels and pushed for the death penalty for drug traffickers.

But DeSantis’ efforts to outplay Trump have raised eyebrows with some observers who question his tactics.

I don’t think that’s a smart strategy,” said Sarah Longwell, an anti-Trump Republican political strategist whose company ran weekly focus groups with GOP voters where DeSantis’ appeal faded. .

Longwell said she expected DeSantis to tailor her speech to the slice of the Republican electorate that wants to leave Trump.

You can’t outrun MAGA Trump, she said, referring to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” political movement. , and instead tried to fight Trump for the Always Trump’-ers.”

DeSantis allies say the governor reacted to what they see as Trump’s attacks from the left and underscored his positions on issues they believe will resonate with Republican primary voters, particularly abortion and DeSantis’ PR war with Disney.

An official with Never Back Down, a pro-DeSantis super PAC that runs much of its political operation, said DeSantis’ strategy is informed by what the group’s canvassers have collected from voters in recent weeks. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the messaging strategy, said voters expressed confusion about Trump’s attacks and reacted particularly well to depictions of DeSantis as a fighter who refuses to to move back.

The group ran a digital ad this week highlighting Trump’s abortion comment that was geotargeted to areas Trump was visiting in Iowa. It also explores the messages that will accuse Trump of being too comfortable with big business during his time in the White House.

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung criticized DeSantis’ insinuations and accused him of defrauding Trump’s ideas.

Ron DeSantis attempted to steal every one of President Trump’s Agenda47 policy platforms. He is a fraudster and pretends to be someone who knows what he is talking about, he said.

DeSantis, in his early campaign stops, also tried to present himself as a disciplined leader who will keep his promises, implying that Trump had failed to do so.

When I tell you I’m going to do something, I don’t just say it because I think that might be what you want to hear, then go into office and forget all the promises I made,” he said in Lexington, South Carolina.

Longwell said his research has consistently found that voters on the fence are willing to put aside concerns about Trump’s temperament because they feel he was so effective in office, raising questions about strategy. by DeSantis.

They don’t like his mouth, they don’t like his tweets, they don’t like his character. But they like what he’s done as president, she said.

Trump, meanwhile, has made it clear that he is eyeing the general election next year.

In Grimes, Iowa on Thursday, Trump received a pointed question from a woman who claimed “we lost people because you supported the jab,” a reference to mRNA vaccine conspiracies, which were credited for saving millions of lives.

Although Trump did not reject his suggestion and stressed that he was never in favor of mandates, he explained that a large part of the country thinks it is a good thing, you understand that. There aren’t many people in this room, but there are a lot of them.

At the Fox News town hall later in the day, Trump said only stupid people could suggest they had done more than he had on abortion given that he had chosen some of the conservative Supreme Court justices. which had overturned Roe v. Wade. But he also continued to criticize conservative Republican midterm candidates who did not support exceptions, including when the mother’s life is at risk, a position consistent with the majority of voters.

A recent memo to donors from super PAC Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio, first reported by Axios, argued that DeSantis is vulnerable among swing-state voters in a general election on issues such as cuts. in Social Security and Medicare, book bans in schools, Florida’s ban on abortions six weeks before most women know they’re pregnant, and her fight with Disney.

Voters, meanwhile, have mixed views on the escalating row.

Heidi Lillibridge, a 51-year-old farmer and Republican activist from Vinton, Iowa, fears Democrats will benefit from mutual criticism of the two leading GOP candidates. She is particularly frustrated with DeSantis’ early attacks.

Criticizing President Trump’s conservative credentials, when we all know how he’s acted as president and what he’s accomplished, I don’t really know why he would do that, she said.

Darcy Cowart, who saw DeSantis speak outside a bar and restaurant in Bluffton, South Carolina, said that although she had previously supported Trump, she was happy to see a large field with other options.

He’s not going to change, and he just has this bully mentality. He just won’t give in,” she said. I know he fights for us and I know he does good things, but at the same time, it’s like having this obnoxious parent who must always be at the table, that you dread to be there.”


Associated Press writers Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, and Meg Kinnard in Bluffton, SC, contributed to this report.


This story has been corrected to show that the Trump spokesperson’s last name is Cheung, not Chueng.




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