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Red State
Red State
5 Aug 2023
Jeff Charles

NextImg:Ron DeSantis Breaks Ranks With MAGA Over Trump’s Stolen Election Claims

Well, he went and said it out loud. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stated publicly that he does not believe former President Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. This issue has been a major sticking point on the right since the outcome was determined.

DeSantis’ take on the matter won’t be well received by those of the MAGA persuasion, to say the least. But the question is, how will the governor’s stance affect his presidential campaign?

Gov. DeSantis made the comments at a campaign event where he addressed reporters:

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said that claims about the 2020 election being stolen were false, directly contradicting a central argument of former President Donald J. Trump and his supporters.

The comments went further than Mr. DeSantis typically goes when asked about Mr. Trump’s defeat. The governor has often tried to hedge, refusing to acknowledge that the election was fairly conducted. In his response on Friday, Mr. DeSantis did not mention Mr. Trump by name — saying merely that such theories were “unsubstantiated.” But the implication was clear.

“All those theories that were put out did not prove to be true,” Mr. DeSantis said in response to a reporter’s question after a campaign event at a brewery in Northeast Iowa.

In a video making the rounds on social media, DeSantis told reporters that Americans don’t want to continue litigating the result of the 2020 election and would rather look toward the present and future:

Let’s focus on what the American people want going forward. This election needs to be about January 20th, 2025, not January 6, 2021. We got to look forward. We got to start healing divisions in this country and all of the stuff that’s going on, I think, is just exacerbating the divisions. And so sometimes there’s a larger picture that you have to look at. And I would be looking at that larger picture, wanting to move forward for the sake of the country.

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After the Justice Department’s latest indictment against Trump over the Jan. 6 matter, the governor issued a statement on Twitter slamming the prosecution for the politically-motivated effort to influence the upcoming 2024 election:

As President, I will end the weaponization of government, replace the FBI Director, and ensure a single standard of justice for all Americans.

While I’ve seen reports, I have not read the indictment. I do, though, believe we need to enact reforms so that Americans have the right to remove cases from Washington, DC to their home districts.

Washington, DC is a “swamp” and it is unfair to have to stand trial before a jury that is reflective of the swamp mentality.

One of the reasons our country is in decline is the politicization of the rule of law. No more excuses—I will end the weaponization of the federal government.

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DeSantis also indicated that if he were to win the presidency, he would pardon Trump, arguing that it is not “in the best interest of the country to have a former president that’s almost 80 years old go to prison.”

“And just like Ford pardoned Nixon, sometimes you’ve got to put this stuff behind you, and we need to start focusing on things having to do with the country’s future,” DeSantis added. “This election needs to be about Jan. 20, 2025, not Jan. 6, 2021.”

Well, this is quite interesting, is it not?

During the 2022 midterm elections, the stolen election claims played a prominent role in the races. Republican candidates were expected to repeat Trump’s allegations about the race being rigged against him. It seemed to be almost a foregone conclusion that if a GOP candidate had any chance of winning, they couldn’t speak out against this narrative.

But now, it might be different.

Firstly, DeSantis rejecting the stolen election narrative could alienate members of the base who still like Trump and believe that the outcome of the election wasn’t kosher. People in this category are likely looking a bit askance at the governor for not backing up the former president. Will this prompt them to support Trump over DeSantis? It is certainly possible.

On the other hand, DeSantis’ stance might appeal to moderate Republicans and independents who might not hate Trump, but aren’t necessarily gung-ho about him either. These folks are more likely to doubt claims about a stolen election and will either not care about DeSantis’ comments, or might agree with him. Given that the governor’s campaign strategy has been to run to the right of Trump, his comments could lessen concerns about being too extreme.

The reactions will probably be mixed. But from my perspective, it does not appear that doubting Trump’s election claims will be the campaign killer that it might have been in 2022. While the most ardent members of the former president’s base won’t appreciate DeSantis’ lack of loyalty, these folks were not likely to back the governor in the first place. As for the rest of the Republican voting block, it probably won’t matter, even among those who believe the 2020 election was rife with funny business.

All in all, DeSantis probably didn’t hurt himself too much with his comments. But he still has much work to do if he wants to close the gap between himself and Trump.