DeSantis sidesteps question on 'disqualification' of Trump over indictments, says 'voters make that decision'

July 28, 2023
Ben Marquis

It has been made abundantly clear that Democrats and some in the media are hopeful that former President Donald Trump's current and pending criminal indictments, to say nothing of the possibility of eventual convictions and incarceration, will serve to disqualify him from running for or winning a second term as president.

Trump's chief Republican rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, doesn't share that view, at least not publicly, as he just said that the question of disqualification for Trump is something that voters must be allowed to decide for themselves, according to The Hill.

The governor did strongly imply, however, that the former president's mounting legal woes are serving to distract the media and general public from what should be the primary focus in the 2024 election -- the failures of President Joe Biden's administration and policy agenda.

Disqualification a question for voters to decide

CBS News reported Thursday that Gov. DeSantis, while campaigning in Iowa, stopped and spoke at length with the network's senior White House and political correspondent, Ed O'Keefe, during which the topic of whether or not former President Trump's criminal indictments should be viewed as a disqualifying factor.

"At the end of the day, voters make that decision," DeSantis told the reporter. "Some people ask me, like, 'Well, if somebody's indicted, should they be able to run?' The problem is, we've seen political indictments."

He pointed to Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's indictment of Trump as an example of being "political," and said, "So, that would just give any prosecutor the ability to -- to render someone ineligible. So, I've not said that. But I also think just, at the end of the day, the election's got to be about the future.

"It's got to be about what people are concerned about, and the more it is about other things, the more Biden is able to hang out in the basement again and end up cruising to a victory, and I know Republicans don't want that to happen," the governor added.

Election should be "referendum on Biden's failed policies," not Trump's legal woes

O'Keefe had actually raised the Trump disqualification question earlier in the interview, but DeSantis had answered similarly and replied, "Well, I think voters have to make that decision. What I can say is, what we need to make the election about is a referendum on Biden’s failed policies and our positive vision to get America on the right track."

"And then, who can win? And then who can actually deliver on these things," he continued. He went on to note that he is "very frustrated" with the FBI and Justice Department and the perception of a "two-tiered" system of justice and partisan "weaponization," and vowed to end such practices and "clean house" if he is elected.

"I will get that done. So I will just tell voters, 'Think about, OK, you know, what does the country need going forward, and who is most likely to bring those policies about,'" DeSantis added. "And I think my record in Florida shows that when I say I'm gonna do something, I deliver on it, and I'll do the same thing as president."

Trump not going anywhere

It is worth noting that, even though he has been criminally indicted and even if he is convicted, former President Trump would not be legally or constitutionally disqualified from running for the presidency, according to a Politico report in June in which Trump was quoted as saying, "I'll never leave" with regard to the 2024 campaign.

"Nobody wants to be indicted," Trump said. "I don’t care that my poll numbers went up by a lot. I don’t want to be indicted. I’ve never been indicted. I went through my whole life, now I get indicted every two months. It’s been political."

He further proclaimed at that time that he was innocent of any alleged wrongdoing and dismissed the prevailing theory among some that he would issue an unprecedented pardon for himself if re-elected.

More recently, Yahoo News reported that Trump vowed in an interview last week to continue to run in 2024 even if he was convicted and sentenced to prison when asked if such circumstances would "stop" his campaign, and said, "Not at all. There’s nothing in the Constitution to say that it could. Even the radical left crazies are saying, 'No, that wouldn’t stop!' And it wouldn’t stop me either."

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