Almost All GOP Candidates Say They Would Back Trump If He’s Convicted

Almost All GOP Candidates Say They Would Back Trump If He’s Convicted
Republican presidential candidates (L-R), former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Vivek Ramaswamy participate in the first debate of the GOP primary season hosted by FOX News at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wis., on Aug. 23, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis raised their hands when asked if they would vote for former President Donald Trump were he to be convicted.

It was a notable moment during the Aug. 23 GOP presidential primary debate, moderated by Fox News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

President Trump has been indicted in Manhattan allegedly for committing a campaign finance violation by giving hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels; separately, on the federal level, for allegedly mishandling documents and trying to overturn the 2020 election; and in Fulton County, Georgia, for allegedly trying to overturn the 2020 election in the Peach State. He has pleaded not guilty in the first three cases and is scheduled to surrender at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta on Aug. 24 in the fourth case, though his arraignment will be at a later date.

Former Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) held up his finger, but not to signal that he would back President Trump were he to be the GOP nominee even if convicted. Instead, he said that the right must cease normalization of the former president’s conduct and that sort of behavior is “beneath the office of president of the United States.” His remarks brought jeers from the audience.

Mr. Ramaswamy gave a full-throated defense of President Trump, calling him “the best president of the 21st century.”

The United States “cannot set a precedent where the party in power uses police force to indict its political opponents,” he said, calling for an end to the “weaponization” of the justice system. The audience cheered.

The noise caused Mr. Baier to turn around and tell the audience to cut it out.

Mr. Christie fired back at Mr. Ramaswamy, citing his experience as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey and as governor of the Garden State. He said he would not “bow” to President Trump and blasted what he called his “[disrespect] for the Constitution.” During what was a debate on Fox News, a right-leaning outlet, Mr. Ramaswamy compared Mr. Christie to a contributor on the left-wing network MSNBC.

The candidates, except for Mr. Ramaswamy, took the view that former Vice President Mike Pence, who was on the debate stage, was in the right on Jan. 6, 2021, when he “sided with the Constitution” over President Trump’s demands during the congressional certification of the 2020 election.

Mr. Scott, lamenting what he called the “weaponization” of the Department of Justice, vowed to fire Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Gov. DeSantis called for the end of the “weaponization of government.”

Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) reiterated his belief that President Trump disqualified himself from being president again due to his actions on Jan. 6, prompting more jeers from the audience.

Ms. Haley called for “a new generational conservative leader,” and the audience cheered. She said most of the American people do not want a rematch between President Joe Biden and President Trump, noting that President Trump is the “most disliked politician in America.”

She concluded with, “We can’t win a general election that way,” prompting a mixture of cheers and jeers.

During his interview with former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, President Trump blasted the indictments against him. He called them “ridiculous,” “nonsense” and “[expletive],” adding that “maybe there’ll be more.” The interview was posted on Mr. Carlson’s page on X, formerly Twitter, in what was an apparent attempt to counter-program the GOP debate.

From The Epoch Times

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