Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday that he believes the 2020 presidential election was not ideal, but that claims of fraud are not valid.
DeSantis, who launched a special office to deal with election fraud in Florida, had previously dodged a definitive answer on the subject.
As of June 2022, when he referred to questions about the 2020 election as “beating this dead horse,” WFLA-TV reported that no record could be found of DeSantis’ stance on the contest.
“I’ve said many times the election is what it is. All those theories that were put out did not prove to be true,” he said during a campaign event in Iowa, according to Fox News.
“But what I’ve also said is, the way you conduct a good election that people have confidence in — you don’t change the rules in the middle of the game,” DeSantis added.
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“You don’t ballot harvest. You don’t do ‘Zuckerbucks,’ and clearly, having the agencies work with Facebook to censor things like Hunter Biden, that’s unfair.
“So it was not an election that was conducted the way I think we want to, but that’s different than saying Maduro stole votes or something like that. And I think those theories proved to be unsubstantiated,” he said.
DeSantis’ reference to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro touched on theories that the Venezuelans had created a scheme to rig elections and that the scheme was employed in the U.S. in 2020.
DeSantis said that if former President Donald Trump is convicted of the charges against him stemming from his challenge of the 2020 election, he would pardon him.
Will DeSantis win the GOP nomination?
Yes: 11% (224 Votes)
No: 89% (1848 Votes)
“I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the country to have a former president that’s almost 80 years old go to prison,” DeSantis said, according to the New York Times.
“Just like [Gerald] Ford pardoned [Richard] Nixon, sometimes you’ve got to put this stuff behind you, and we need to start focusing on things having to do with the country’s future,” he said, adding, “This election needs to be about Jan. 20, 2025, not Jan. 6, 2021.”
In a New Hampshire town hall that aired Friday, DeSantis, who has been the target of some of Trump’s famous nicknames, criticized his opponent’s behavior, according to CNN.
“These insults are so phony. These insults are juvenile. That is not the way a great nation should be conducting itself. That is not the way the president of the United States should be conducting himself,” DeSantis said.
“As Republicans, that will cause us to lose if we behave that way,” he said. “There are millions of voters out there who do not like what Biden is doing to this country. … They do not like the direction the country is going in. But they aren’t going to sign up for a candidate who is behaving like that.
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“So let’s be better. Let’s look higher, and let’s set a good standard for our children to follow.”
DeSantis also took shots at Trump’s record.
“He’s running in 2024 on the things that he promised to do in 2016 and didn’t do,” DeSantis said, according to WMUR-TV. “He said he was going to drain the swamp. He did not drain the swamp. Not even close.”
“We ended his presidency with Anthony Fauci running the country,” DeSantis said. “He couldn’t even fire Fauci? And so now you’re going to drain the swamp? Give me a break.”
CNN noted that DeSantis added a criticism of the 2020 election a day after his previous comments on the subject.
“I think what happened was COVID was used as an excuse to change the voting rules. Some of those were, I think, unconstitutional changes because it’s got to be done by the legislature. … It can’t be done by emergency executive order,” he said.
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