Former United States President Donald Trump — who has vowed to continue his candidacy to return to the White House if convicted and sentenced in any of the cases against him — shared the stage with his Republican rivals for the first time in Iowa on Friday.
Trump’s appearance at the Republican Party’s Lincoln Dinner fundraiser comes as he faces new charges for handling classified government documents and a possible new indictment over his alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election results.
The Lincoln Dinner format—10 minutes per candidate—keeps tensions to a minimum, but the favorite did not hold back from telling the attendees what he thought of his main contender, the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis.
“I wouldn’t risk it for that one,” Trump said after giving polling data suggesting he would handily defeat incumbent Joe Biden. while DeSantis would lose to the veteran Democrat.
Trump also took the opportunity to gush about his accomplishments while in office, from the appointment of three conservative Supreme Court justices to the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. Facing his legal troubles, he only hinted briefly. “If I wasn’t a candidate, no one would be persecuting me,” said the 77-year-old former president.
For his part, DeSantis stuck to his usual pitch and didn’t take the opportunity to attack Trump. “The time for excuses is over. We have to do the job. I’ll do the job,” he told the crowd.
(You can read: Donald Trump will be indicted for the assault on the Capitol, according to a notice to his lawyers).
‘I wouldn’t stop’
Earlier, Trump (who was president between 2017 and 2021) said in a radio interview that his legal troubles are not going to change his plans to return to the White House. Asked by conservative radio host John Fredericks if an unfavorable ruling would halt his campaign, Trump was quick to reply: “Not at all. There’s nothing in the Constitution that says it should.”
According to Trump, “even the crazy ones on the radical left say no, that wouldn’t stop me, and it wouldn’t stop me either. These people are sick.”
The Republican magnate, who overcame two impeachment trials in Congress, he was first indicted in the classified documents case last month. According to the court, he is responsible for endangering national security by keeping top-secret nuclear and defense information in his possession after leaving the White House.
On Thursday, in the investigation into the classified documents, special counsel Jack Smith alleged that Trump asked a worker at his Florida beachfront estate to delete surveillance footage to obstruct investigators. The tycoon, who is scheduled to go to trial at the height of the campaign in March and May of next year, denies any wrongdoing.
(Also: Prosecutor adds three more charges against Donald Trump for withholding classified documents.)
Trump also faces felony charges in a case involving secret payments to a porn actress in New York. and is preparing for an indictment in separate state and federal investigations into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
He was also charged with illegally withholding national defense information and is accused of showing a classified document to reporters at his New Jersey golf club. The former president unleashed a cascade of expletives laden with false accusations against the government, President Biden and other leading Democrats on his social platform. He also called for Smith and his “thug prosecutors” to be jailed along with Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The DeSantis campaign is asleep. The 44-year-old Republican has seen Trump extend his lead from 13 points in February to 34 now, as he has failed to connect with voters and has been in a series of polemics.. His team was forced this week to fire a staff member who promoted a video featuring Nazi imagery.
(Also: Would Joe Biden pardon his son Hunter if convicted? The White House fired back.)
In addition, the candidate sparked outrage by suggesting that he would choose anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to lead his public health policy. His collaborators announced the dismissal of a third of the campaign staff while admitting excessive spending.
At the same time, he was criticized for defending the new curriculum in his state, which is accused of teaching the benefits of slavery. Other speakers at the Lincoln Dinner included former Vice President Mike Pence, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
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-Governor Ron DeSantis is in a car accident before a campaign event in Tennessee
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