Trump 'Big Risk' for 2024, say Haley and Ron DeSantis in unison at town halls in Iowa

Des Moines, Jan 6 (IANS): Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former UN Ambassador and North Carolina Governor Nikki Haley were unanimous in saying ex-President Donald Trump was "a big risk for the GOP "in the 2024 Presidential race and prospects for "retaking the White House are doomed".

While Haley skirted around the legal woes of Trump on civil tax fraud case in New York to the election subversion cases in four jurisdictions in the US except saying indirectly that "Chaos follows Trump", DeSantis was more direct in his frontal attack on Trump saying his legal cases could damage the Republicans in the polls in November this year surrendering the advantage to incumbent President Joe Biden.

Both were in unison in saying: "Nominating Trump would be a big mistake" and the chance of winning the presidency in 2024 and "retaking the White House are doomed".

With less than 10 days to go for the Iowa caucus to meet, both exuded absolute confidence that they would make the grade for the GOP nomination, even though polls show that Trump is still the front runner, said media reports analysing the two candidates town hall meetings in Iowa’s capital Des Moines.

Haley displayed confidence she would skate through Iowa and capture New Hampshire while DeSantis was very confident of making the grade at Iowa itself, media reports said.

Both candidates used the platforms of the town hall meetings well as arranged by the CNN news network to address voters on key issues while taking different approaches.

DeSantis sought to show a more relatable side of his personality. He also staked out some new policy ground, saying he supports a "flat tax" - a single national income tax rate, with no deductions or exemptions - and would abolish the Internal Revenue Service, CNN reported.

Haley, meanwhile, sought to demonstrate that she was ready and tough enough to deal with hard issues. She emphasised fiscal responsibility, argued that Israel should get whatever it needs from the United States to fight Hamas, and described the hardline approach against extremism she took to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse when she was Governor. Charleston in SC was witness to the grisly murder of blacks by a white gunman.

The two also made their cases that Trump’s legal battles could hurt the party’s efforts to defeat President Biden in the general election.

Polls show Trump is well ahead of them in Iowa but none can predict what the voters in the caucuses would do in the last minute. But DeSantis and Haley both insisted they will compete to win the state until the last possible moment.

“Don’t let the media or the pundits make the decision. Vote for who you think will be the best president of the United States,” DeSantis said, touting his appearances in all 99 of Iowa’s counties.

Haley’s hopes of winning the GOP nomination are widely seen as more dependent on the outcome of the New Hampshire primary on January 23. She even claimed Wednesday while campaigning in New Hampshire: “You know how to do this. You know Iowa starts it. You know that you can correct it.” But she didn’t downplay her chances in Iowa, telling voters Thursday night her comment had been a joke.

"You are going to see me fight until the very end, on the last day in Iowa,” she said. “And I’m not playing in one state. I’m fighting in every state. Because I think everybody’s worth fighting for."

Both DeSantis and Haley made the case that nominating Trump for a third consecutive time is a risk Republican voters should not take. Both were careful not to knock Trump over the specifics of the indictments he faces in federal court as well as in Georgia and New York. But they portrayed him as a candidate whose personal drama would doom the GOP. They thought his theatrics over the 2020 elections being stolen would cost the party dearly in 2024, CNN said. .

"Chaos follows him. And we can’t have a country in disarray and a world on fire and go through four more years of chaos. We won’t survive it," Haley said. She said she used to tell Trump that he is "his own worst enemy". "We have a country to save, and that means no more drama. No more taking things personally."

DeSantis frequently lamented the indictments, saying they boosted the former President politically because they rallied a Republican base that views the legal proceedings as politically motivated. But he warned Iowa voters Thursday night that the trials Trump is expected to face this year could damage Trump against Biden.

"Whatever may be beneficial in the primary doesn’t mean it’s beneficial in the general election," DeSantis said. "We’re putting the future of the Republican Party, and the future of the nation, perhaps, in the hands of 12 jurors in heavily Democrat DC," he said.

The DeSantis that showed up Thursday night for the town hall was not the same DeSantis from earlier in the 2024 Republican primary. He argued that while Trump was running on issues important only to him and Haley was running for her donors, DeSantis was running for “you” – the average voter.

He also was more eager than he had previously been to warn about Trump as a nominee. "The Democrats want Trump to be the candidate," he said.

DeSantis wasn’t working to appeal to just the most activist base Republican voters but to a broader audience. It was a marked change from DeSantis in past appearances that was seen by critics as who was overly stiff and unrelatable.

Thursday’s town hall took place hours after a school shooting in Perry, Iowa in which a middle school student was killed and five others were injured. Asked how, in light of the attack, he would address the issue of gun violence at schools without limiting gun rights, De Santis cited gun laws enacted by his predecessor Rick Scott.

Haley also focused her answer on mental health and security. “We have got to deal with the cancer that is mental health,” she said. She said the country doesn’t have enough mental health therapists, mental health centers and addiction centers, and insurance sometimes doesn’t cover treatment. Haley also called for securing schools the way the country secures airports and courthouses.



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Title: Trump 'Big Risk' for 2024, say Haley and Ron DeSantis in unison at town halls in Iowa

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