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DeSantis says Trump indictments ‘sucked out a lot of oxygen’ from primary race

By Aaron Pellish, CNN

(CNN) — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the one thing he would change about the dynamics of the 2024 Republican presidential primary would be the indictments issued against former President Donald Trump, which he says have “distorted”the race.

DeSantis said in an interview with CBN News released Thursday that he believes the indictments Trump is facing have helped him in the race and also “sucked out a lot of oxygen” from the rest of the field.

“I would say if I could have one thing change, I wish Trump hadn’t been indicted on any of this stuff. I mean honestly, I think from Alvin Bragg on, I’ve criticized the cases. I think, you know, someone like a Bragg would not have brought that case if it was anyone other than Donald Trump, and so someone like that’s distorting justice, which is bad. But I also think it distorted the primary, and I think it’s been — those have kind of been the main issues that have happened,” DeSantis said.

When asked specifically if he feels the indictments have helped Trump, DeSantis said he feels “it’s both that” and the fact that the news of a former president being charged dominates the conversation around the primary.

“It’s both that, but then it also has just crowded out I think so much other stuff and it’s sucked out a lot of oxygen,” he said.

DeSantis said that while Trump may benefit from the indictments in the primary, Democrats could use the former president’s indictments to their advantage in a general election.

“Now in a general election I think the Democrats have a plan on this,” DeSantis said. “I think if it gets to the point where six months from now, Trump’s the presumptive nominee and he’s having to go through all this, they have a plan for how they’re going to ride this out.”

The candid remarks from DeSantis hint at the underlying dynamic driving the Republican primary thus far, where rivals seeking to coalesce support from voters who have abandoned Trump are struggling to cut into the former president’s commanding lead. Polls released in the aftermath of Trump’s indictments suggested his support solidified in their wake, further complicating the dynamics of the primary.

Trump holds a massive lead over his competition for the GOP presidential nomination in national polls. He also maintains a significant lead among likely voters in New Hampshire’s Republican presidential primary, according to a CNN Poll last month conducted by the University of New Hampshire. His advantage in New Hampshire remains short of the majority support he garners in primary polling nationally, with 42% of likely voters saying they would opt for Trump.

DeSantis has repeatedly denounced the indictments against Trump.

The former president has been involved in four indictments this year. He was first indicted in March by the Manhattan district attorney on state charges related to a hush-money payment to an adult-film star in 2016.

Trump was indicted again in June by a federal grand jury in Miami for taking classified national defense documents from the White House after he left office and resisting the government’s attempts to retrieve the materials.

The other two indictments came as a result of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into alleged efforts by the former president and his allies to overturn the 2020 election and as a result of a sweeping investigation led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis that covered some of the most overt efforts by the former president and his allies to meddle in the 2020 presidential election.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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