DeSantis and Pence circle the wagons around Trump after indictment
Greensboro, N.C. — In their first remarks since former president Donald Trump's federal indictment, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former vice president Mike Pence rushed to defend their rival.
Why it matters: It foreshadows a tightrope that the other candidates running for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination will walk through the primary season.
- Trump gained momentum politically and raised over $4 million in the first 24 hours after news of his Manhattan indictment.
What we're watching: Speaking at the North Carolina Republican Party convention on Friday, DeSantis wondered if there is "a different standard for a Democrat secretary of state versus a former Republican president?” in reference to Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.
- “There needs to be one standard of justice in this country. Let’s enforce it on everybody,” he said.
- "You can’t have one faction of society weaponizing the power of the state against factions that it doesn’t like.”
Pence, speaking to a smaller group at the same convention on Saturday, demanded that Attorney General Merrick Garland explain to the American people "why this indictment went forward."
- He went on to say that the former president is facing "an unprecedented indictment by a justice department run by the current president" in an effort to highlight what he sees as unequal treatment by the justice system.
The big picture: They are among a crowded GOP field — including former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) — who are unwilling to condemn Trump after a 37-count indictment over his handling of classified documents.
- Only former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have criticized Trump's conduct.
- Why Trump can legally run for president despite indictments
- U.S. secrets were everywhere at Trump's club
- Special counsel: "We have one set of laws in this country"