DeSantis Challenges Trump’s Debate Absence, Asserts Strength As Key Candidate

In a surprising turn of events, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has voiced his disapproval of former President Donald Trump’s potential absence from the upcoming Republican Party primary debate in Milwaukee. 

Speaking with Guy Benson on Fox News Radio, the GOP presidential candidate shared his belief that Trump’s hesitancy to partake in the debates stems from his reluctance to defend certain unfulfilled promises made during his 2016 campaign. 

He went on to attribute Trump’s recent appearance at the Iowa State Fair while he was present to his own campaign events as an indication of Trump’s concerns about his strong candidacy.

“So, if you already had it in the bag, you would not worry about any other candidate. I have been in races where I had it in the bag. I was not out there attacking people that I was 40 or 50 points ahead of. So, he owes it to people to go up there and debate,” he said.

DeSantis went on to express his expectation to be a prime target for his fellow candidates due to his strong standing in the polls, topped only by Trump.

The governor’s remarks shed light on the dynamic of the race, revealing that while he faces direct attacks from Trump’s campaign, many other candidates veer away from targeting the former president. 

“Clearly, I’m the only guy that Trump’s campaign attacks. And then the other candidates, a lot of them don’t really say much about Donald Trump, and they — they focus more on me,” he stated.

“Ever since we won re-election in Florida by such a historic margin, people have identified me as a threat. The Democrats have identified me as a threat. Biden, Harris, they spend more time attacking me than anybody else. The media, they have been after me. I have probably had more hit pieces from the corporate press than any other candidate running,” he added.

Eager to connect with a broader audience, DeSantis expressed his anticipation for engaging with millions of Americans who have yet to fully engage with the primaries. 

In an intriguing development, the Never Back Down Super PAC, which stands behind DeSantis, released a thought-provoking ad questioning Trump’s commitment to participating in the debate. 

Referencing Trump’s past jabs at Democrats for shying away from debates, the ad proclaims, “We can’t afford a nominee who is too weak to debate. We need a nominee with stamina. A nominee who’s sharp.”

The ad goes on to emphasize the need for a candidate who actively earns the support of the Republican base rather than demanding it. Drawing attention to the evolving landscape, the ad asks, “What happened to Donald Trump?” in a clear challenge to the former president’s engagement in the primary process.