• Wed. Feb 21st, 2024

Republican presidential debate on Fox Business

Republican presidential debate on Fox Business


Supporters of former President Donald Trump gather near the entrance to the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, on September 27, 2023, ahead of the second Republica primary debate which the former president will not attend.
Supporters of former President Donald Trump gather near the entrance to the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, on September 27, 2023, ahead of the second Republica primary debate which the former president will not attend. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

While Ron DeSantis’ campaign manager wouldn’t speak for the Florida governor when it comes to how he might broach attacks on Donald Trump, he emphasized the former president’s absence on the stage.

“This election is not something that is inevitable or guaranteed to somebody. You have to work for it. You have to earn it,” James Uthmeier, DeSantis campaign manager, told CNN. “If the former president is so confident in these polls and the outcome, then he should be here to present his case with all the other candidates.” 

On the trail and in recent weeks, DeSantis has leveled criticism at Trump for his contribution to the national debt, failure to complete the border wall, “drain the swamp” and his comments on abortion — where Trump called some Republican state restriction’s “terrible.”

“When it’s come up, he’s pointed out the contrast with Trump. The governor is not one of these people that wants to push personal jabs, but he focuses on the contrast. I think spending is a big one. He’s pointed out that both Republicans and Democrats alike have been irresponsible with spending at the federal level,” Uthmeier said.

“I think he’s pointed out that while Trump ran on immigration and started the wall, it’s indisputable that the border is less secure than it has ever been,” he added.

Asked if DeSantis would make those contrasts tonight, Uthmeier said: “I’ll let him speak tonight. I don’t want to get ahead of him.”

Ahead of the debate, DeSantis and Florida first lady Casey DeSantis will receive a prayer from Greg Laurie, the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, based in Riverside, California, Uthmeier said.

Laurie will be seated in the audience tonight as a guest of Casey.

“This is an important time in our country, and it’s a time for choosing, as Reagan said,” Uthmeier said. “There is a choice with him to move forward.”

Tomorrow, DeSantis will be fundraising in Monterey, Fresno and San Francisco, according to a senior campaign official. On Friday, he will have a campaign event in Long Beach, California and later headline the California GOP Convention.



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