Trump, defiant over legal woes, shares Iowa stage with DeSantis
Former US president Donald Trump — who has pledged to pursue his White House bid if convicted and sentenced in one of the cases engulfing his comeback bid — on Friday shared a stage with his Republican rivals for the first time in Iowa.
Trump’s appearance at the party’s Lincoln Dinner fundraiser came as he faced new charges over his handling of classified government documents — and a possible fresh indictment over his alleged efforts to overturn the result of the 2020 election.
The format of the Lincoln Dinner — 10 minutes for each candidate — kept the fireworks to a minimum, but the frontrunner did not shy away from telling the attendees what he thought of his main challenger, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
“I wouldn’t take a chance on that one,” Trump said after offering a barrage of poll data suggesting he would easily defeat incumbent President Joe Biden while DeSantis would lose against the veteran Democrat.
Trump offered a rapid-fire summary of his achievements while in office, from appointing three conservative-leaning Supreme Court justices to withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan, and only briefly alluded to his legal woes.
“If I weren’t running, I would have nobody coming after me,” the 77-year-old said.
For his part, DeSantis stuck to his usual stump speech, and did not use the opportunity to take a swipe at Trump.
“The time for excuses is over. We must get the job done. I will get the job done,” he told attendees in Des Moines.
– ‘It wouldn’t stop me’ –
Earlier in the day, Trump used a radio interview to insist his legal woes would not derail his White House bid.
Asked by radio host John Fredericks if being sentenced would stop his 2024 campaign, Trump quickly responded: “Not at all. There’s nothing in the Constitution to say that it could.”
“And even the radical left crazies are saying not at all, that wouldn’t stop (me) — and it wouldn’t stop me, either,” he added. “These people are sick. What they are doing is absolutely horrible.”
The twice-impeached former president was first indicted in the classified documents case last month, accused of endangering national security by holding onto top secret nuclear and defense information after leaving the White House.
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