With former President Donald J. Trump no longer on the menu for the first Republican presidential primary debate, Governor Ron DeSantis now becomes the main course for a swarm of lesser candidates looking to make a big impression.
On Sunday, Trump put an end to the suspense by announcing that he wouldn’t be on the stage when the GOP hopefuls take the stage at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisc. on Wednesday night, a major disappointment to the RNC, Fox News, and his opponents, especially Chris Christie who has been boasting for months about how he was going to chew up the 2024 frontrunner and spit him out.
(Video: Fox News)
The Sunshine State Republican virtually guaranteed that he would be a target of the former New Jersey governor, jabbing Christie along with the others during a Monday appearance on “The Story” where Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum discussed his strategy for the nationally televised throw-down, particularly when it comes to the blustering ABC News pundit on hiatus from his TV gig.
“What about Chris Christie?” MacCallum asked. “He’s also come at you pretty hard. Do you expect that there’s gonna be some moments where you’re going to want to put him in his place? He’s doing very well in New Hampshire. I think he surpassed you in some of the polls in New Hampshire. He is not engaging at all in Iowa.”
“Well, look, bring it on,” replied DeSantis. “People can do what they want. I can tell you this, though, Martha, of anyone on the stage, I’m the only one whose sole purpose is running to be the 47th president of the United States and to reverse this country’s decline.”
“I’m not running to be vice president. I’m not running to be in the cabinet. And I’m not running to be a contributor on cable news. We’re running to win, and we’re gonna show people that we’ll get the job done,” he said
He was earlier asked by MacCallum about a New York Times report on a leaked debate strategy memo from the super PAC that backs him, which among other things said that he would “take a sledgehammer” to political newcomer and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy whose fresh new approach has captivated conservatives.
“So that is not part of me, that’s a separate entity,” DeSantis said of Never Back Down, the super PAC that supports his candidacy. “I had nothing to do with it, it’s not something that I’ve read and it’s not reflective of my strategy so we’re gonna talk about what we’re gonna do for the country across a wide variety of issues.”
“We’ll be ready. I think with Donald Trump not being there, I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m gonna be probably the guy that people are gonna come after.”
According to The New York Times, the leaked memo says that the governor should “’defend Trump when Chris Christie attacks him,’ with a specific suggestion for an attack line accusing Mr. Christie, the former New Jersey governor, of appealing mainly to Democrats: ‘Trump isn’t here, so let’s just leave him alone. He’s too weak to defend himself here. We’re all running against him. I don’t think we want to join forces with someone on this stage who’s auditioning for a show on MSNBC.’”
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