Ron DeSantis Defends Trump In CNN Interview – Rolling Stone

DeSantis on Tapper Interview

Ron DeSantis is grasping at straws. The Republican Florida governor and presidential hopeful is battling a multifront war to remain a player in the race for the 2024 nomination. 

On Tuesday, DeSantis sat down with CNN’s Jake Tapper as part of an intentional strategy by the campaign to expand the governor’s message to independents who aren’t consuming a steady diet of Fox News and right wing media. 

Despite DeSantis’ attempts to expand his message, Monday was overshadowed by news that former President Donald Trump has been served a target letter by the Department of Justice. The letter, usually a precursor to a formal indictment, informed Trump that he is the target of an investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election — and his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. 

“I don’t want him to be charged,” DeSantis told Tapper. “This country is going down the road of criminalizing political differences. And I think that is wrong.”

Earlier on Tuesday, DeSantis criticized Trump’s response to Jan. 6, telling an audience in South Carolina that “it was shown how he was in the White House and didn’t do anything while things were going on. He should have come out more forcefully.” 

But DeSantis denied that the former president’s actions (or inaction) merited criminal liability. “We wanna be in a situation where you don’t have one side just constantly trying to put the other side in jail,” he added. 

DeSantis has been leaning heavily into his record as Florida governor as a cornerstone for his campaign, but voters have responded with little more than apathy — if not outright hostility — towards having Florida-style governance become the law of the land. Tapper questioned the governor regarding whether or not as president, he would make the six week abortion ban he signed into law in Florida a national policy. 

“I am pro-life, I will be a pro-life president, and we will support pro-life policies,” DeSantis responded. “If we lose the election, [Democrats are] going to try to nationalize abortion up until the moment of birth,” DeSantis said, going on to repeat a false claim that some Democratic states allow post-birth abortion. 

Despite the DeSantis campaign’s continued harping of culture war messaging, the gap between the governor and the former president continues to grow, with DeSantis’ polling average dropping nearly 10 points since April. As Rolling Stone previously reported, some of that gap can be explained by surveys showing many voters have stopped giving a shit about the varied responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, a cornerstone of DeSantis’ efforts to distinguish himself from former President Trump. In an effort to recalibrate (and cut down on excess spending), the campaign recently fired about a dozen staffers. 


But the most necessary recalibration is one that DeSantis still seems reluctant to commit to. The governor refuses to directly attack his principal opponent — Donald Trump. Instead, DeSantis has joined many of his 2024 candidates in acting as free public relations surrogates for the former president. Much of the Republican primary field is operating under the delusion that defending Trump from criminal investigations and accountability for his misconduct will not only win them the nomination but magically secure them his voting base. 

On a day where DeSantis was set to give a much-hyped interview with a liberal-leaning network, he has once again been reduced to offering justifications and excuses for a rival who would never in a million years return the favor. 

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