Ron DeSantis shies away from Donald Trump criticism at Iowa GOP dinner where both are speaking

Ron DeSantis shies away from Donald Trump criticism at Iowa GOP dinner where both are speaking

DES MOINES, Iowa — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed “I will get the job done” but shied away from attacking former President Donald Trump as the two top rivals for the Republican presidential nomination were making rare appearances at the same Iowa campaign event on Friday night.

Despite Trump being charged a day earlier with additional counts over his retention of classified documents that could shake up the race, DeSantis stuck to his standard campaign speech, mostly targeting President Joe Biden. The Florida governor also repeated his frequent promise to halt the “weaponization” of the Justice Department, an allusion to Trump’s legal troubles, but offered no specific thoughts on the cases against him. That’s despite Trump also bracing to be charged soon in Washington over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

“The time for excuses is over. We must get the job done,” DeSantis said. “I will get the job done.”

Trump frequently avoids attending multicandidate events in person, questioning why he would share a stage with competitors who are badly trailing him in polls. But with Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus less than six months away, the former president joined a dozen other GOP hopefuls in speaking to about 1,200 GOP members and activists at the Lincoln Day Dinner.

He also opened an Iowa campaign office in Urbandale, outside Des Moines, prior to the main event — and wasn’t shy about slamming his competitors around the same time DeSantis was taking the stage at the dinner.

“I understand the other candidates are falling very flat … it’s like death,” Trump said, adding, “There’s no applause, there’s no nothing.”

More than 100 people packed the small office, many wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and shirts. They had waited in 100-degree weather to enter, and the poorly ventilated office quickly became sweltering. Staff handed out water bottles, and people fanned themselves with campaign handouts. Some used paper towels to wipe away sweat.

DeSantis is Trump’s strongest primary competitor but has been trying to reset his stalled campaign for two weeks. He’s increasingly focusing on Iowa in its efforts on trying to derail Trump.

The governor’s stumbles have raised questions about whether another candidate might be able to emerge from the field and catch the former president. Some evangelicals, who can be determinative in the state’s caucuses, have pointed to South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott’s upbeat message and pulpit-style delivery as strengths that could help him rise there.

Scott, who also spoke Friday night and didn’t mention Trump or the cases against him, held a town hall the previous day in Ankeny with Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. Afterward, Scott took a swipe at DeSantis over the Florida governor’s support for new standards that require the state’s teachers to instruct middle school students that slaves developed skills that “could be applied for their personal benefit.”

The only Black Republican in the U.S. Senate, Scott said all Americans should recognize how “devastating” slavery was. “There is no silver lining” to slavery, he added.

DeSantis has also faced criticism from teachers and civil rights leaders, as well as mounting pushback from some of his party’s most prominent Black elected officials. Florida Rep. Byron Donalds said he hoped officials might “correct” parts of the curriculum addressing lessons on the developed skills of enslaved people. Texas Republican Rep. Wesley Hunt and Will Hurd, a former Texas congressman now also running in the GOP presidential primary, have also criticized DeSantis.

Still, the governor continued to dig in on the issue, saying at a pre-dinner event in Oskaloosa on Friday, “D.C. Republicans all too often accept false narratives, accept lies that are perpetrated by the left.” The governor has defended the new school curriculum, saying, “I think it’s very clear that these guys did a good job on those standards.”

John Niemeyer, 52, from Kalona, Iowa, attended DeSantis’ event and was impressed. But, as a high school teacher, he’s not a fan of some of the governor’s positions on education policy.

“I don’t want to make our classrooms a political battlefield,” he said, adding that it would be a “mistake” to make the issue the forefront of his campaign.

Vice President Kamala Harris made her own Iowa stop on Friday, seeking to draw a contrast with the Republicans as she looked to lift President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign. Harris met in Des Moines with activists and discussed abortion rights, after Reynolds recently signed a ban on most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

“I do believe that we are witnessing a national agenda that is about a full-on attack on hard won freedoms and hard won rights,” the vice president said.

Hours later, many Lincoln Day Dinner attendees wore “Trump Country” stickers, including 72-year-old Diane Weaver of Ankeny, Iowa.

“I think he makes America great,” said Weaver, a retiree who plans to caucus for Trump. “I think he did it once and I think he can do it again.”

West Des Moines resident Jane Schrader chose to wear her “Trump Country” sticker on her pants instead of at eye level. “I’m not quite dyed-in-the-wool. I’m a supporter, but not that kind,” said the retired physician, explaining her sticker placement.

Trump did face criticism from some rivals, including former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison, who in his speech declared, “As a party, we need a new direction for America and for the GOP.” The crowd offered only a muted reaction — but refrained from booing, which Trump critics at Republican primary events often face.

DeSantis, meanwhile, ducked chances Friday to criticize Trump over the additional charges he faces even before his speech.

“We have engaged when appropriate,” DeSantis told reporters in Oskaloosa, adding that he’s not interested in “relitigating the latest superseding indictment.”

The governor has pledged to eventually visit all of Iowa’s 99 counties and is in the midst of a two-day state bus tour organized by a super PAC supporting his run. But he faces fresh questions about his strategy and path forward.

After his fundraising reports showed him burning through donations, the governor cut more than a third of his campaign staff.

DeSantis’ cash crunch seems to be driving the campaign to rely even more on the efforts of the super PAC Never Back Down to take up the work typically done by campaign staff. Super PACs can receive unlimited sums from donors but are barred under federal rules from donating to candidates or coordinating with campaigns on how their money is spent.

While presidential campaigns have been supplemented before by the work of super PACs, which frequently use deeper coffers to run expensive television ads, the work Never Back Down has done to promote DeSantis has been more expansive.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

Soruce :

Leave a comment

SMM Panel PDF Kitap indir