DeSantis made the comments in an interview with CBS News that aired Wednesday night. The Florida governor has sharpened his critiques of Trump, seeking to paint him as unelectable as he strains to catch up to the former president in the GOP presidential race.
“I didn’t think even before all this that the president, the former president, should have run again,” DeSantis said in the interview. “There’s too many voters, who, he’s a dealbreaker for them.”
DeSantis, who is in a distant second in the race, has gradually hardened his criticisms of the former president as he runs against him. He joined almost all of the GOP candidates on the debate stage last month in saying they would support Trump, the frontrunner, as the party’s nominee, if he’s convicted.
But in the new interview, DeSantis said Trump likely can’t win if he’s convicted.
“I think the chance of getting elected after being convicted of a felony is as close to zero as you can get,” he said.
Trump faces 91 charges across four criminal cases, two filed in federal court in Washington and Florida and two in state courts in New York and Georgia. The cases are related to his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss, allegations he mishandled classified documents and hush money payments made to hide claims of extramarital affairs.
DeSantis has in the past made comments agreeing with Trump’s statements suggesting the cases against him are politically motivated, with the governor saying the criminal justice system was being politicized.
Trump’s campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement that “DeSantis knows he has no shot of ever becoming the nominee— he is slipping to third place after all — but cozying up to Never Trumpers and lunatic Democrats is an all-time low for him, almost as low as his poll numbers.”
DeSantis also criticized Trump for adding to the national debt as president. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, the gross national debt by $7.4 trillion over the Trump years.
DeSantis said both parties have added to the debt and “Republicans talk big when they’re out of power, but when they get in, they don’t put their money where their mouth is.”
“Donald Trump added almost $8 trillion to the debt in four years. He ran saying he was going to eliminate the national debt,” he said. “He did make that promise, and they did the opposite.”
Trump’s campaign did not respond to DeSantis’ comments on the debt.
Michelle L. Price, The Associated Press