GREENSBORO, NC — Despite an indictment packed with details about Donald Trump’s alleged plans to hold on to top-secret files despite a grand jury subpoena, Trump’s leading GOP rival Ron DeSantis never once mentioned the 37-point document that could be sent to the former president during a Friday night speech to North Carolina Republicans.
The Florida governor barely mentioned the issue and kicked off the issue by returning to the old standby of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server, which eventually contained some classified documents.
“Gosh, if I, as a naval officer, had embraced secrecy on my phone, I would have been court-martialed in New York in a minute,” he said. “Yet they don’t seem to care. Is there a different standard for a Democratic secretary of state than for a former Republican president? I think there has to be a uniform standard of justice in this country.”
DeSantis, who happily lashes out at Trump for his handling of COVID, his failure to build a wall along the U.S. southern border, and other hot-button issues for the Republican electorate, seems unwilling to mention an issue that makes Trump unelectable could at a general election.
After Trump was indicted in New York City in March for falsifying business records to conceal a $130,000 payout to a porn star, DeSantis initially noted that he had no expertise in the area of hush-money payments. But after receiving criticism for not joining the Republicans’ sweeping condemnation of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, DeSantis took his turn and announced that he would refuse to extradite Trump for prosecution, if he was asked to.
“Given the questionable circumstances surrounding this Soros-backed Manhattan attorney and his political agenda, Florida will not assist in an extradition request.” De Santis wrote in a Twitter post.
On Thursday night, two hours and 32 minutes after Trump announced on his personal social media platform that he had been impeached, DeSantis joined the chorus of pro-Trump voices complaining about unequal justice.
“Why are they so eager to pursue Trump and so passive to Hillary or Hunter? “The DeSantis administration will report to the Justice Department, eliminate political bias, and end arming once and for all.” wrote the governor of Florida.
DeSantis was the guest speaker at the “Old North State Dinner” at the annual Republican Convention in North Carolina on Friday. Former Vice President Mike Pence will speak on Saturday afternoon, Trump on Saturday evening.
DeSantis didn’t answer questions from the approximately 900 people who filled the Greensboro Sheraton’s main ballroom, instead spending his 45 minutes on stage acting out his now-familiar short speech. He boasted of his “victories” in Florida, including a six-week abortion ban, a ban on “diversity, justice and inclusion” programs at state universities, and his broader “war on waking up.”
His only standing ovation came when he boasted about his attack on The Walt Disney Co. for criticizing him and his Educational Parental Rights Act. “There will be no compromise,” he said.
The closest thing DeSantis has criticized to Trump, who leads him by double digits in polls, was to allude to the poor election results the party has suffered since the former developer and game show host won the White House in 2016.
Republicans lost the House of Representatives in 2018, both the White House and Senate in 2020 and, despite expectations of a “red wave,” narrowly won back the House of Representatives, while actually losing another Senate seat in 2022.
“Our job is to shake up the culture of losing that has infected the Republican Party in recent years,” he said. “We must stop wasting winnable elections.”
In addition to the two he is already charged with, Trump faces two other criminal investigations: a second investigation by the DOJ into his January 6, 2021 coup attempt; and an investigation into the state of Georgia over its attempt to overturn the election there.
Still, he’s seeking the presidency again and leading most Republican polls for 2024.