Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis disagrees with the notion that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from then-President Donald Trump.
“Whoever puts their hand on the Bible on Jan. 20 every four years is the winner,” DeSantis told NBC News.
“Of course he lost. Joe Biden’s the president.”
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Still, DeSantis said there were flaws in the 2020 election.
“I think what people in the media and elsewhere, they want to act like somehow this was just like the perfect election,” he said in his first broadcast network interview since he launched his presidential campaign.
“I don’t think it was a good-run election. But I also think Republicans didn’t fight back. You’ve got to fight back when that is happening.”
The governor cited problems in the election that included widespread availability of mail-in ballots during lockdowns “because Trump turned the government over to [Dr. Anthony] Fauci,” and social media outlets censoring the New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
DeSantis’ comments to NBC News follow what he told reporters Friday, when he said Trump’s claims about 2020 election fraud proved untrue.
“All those theories that were put out did not prove to be true,” DeSantis said following a campaign event at a brewery in northeast Iowa, according to The New York Times.
DeSantis is trailing Trump by a wide margin in the race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. RealClear Politics on Monday showed Trump with a 38-point lead over DeSantis.
Trump last week pleaded not guilty to charges that he conspired to overturn the 2020 election, and also to new charges for allegedly mishandling top secret government documents.
DeSantis told NBC News that the former president’s legal problems are “not really about Donald Trump,” adding that a justice system “is not fair if it is weaponized.”
The governor also said the 2024 election needs to be about Biden’s policies and not about Trump’s legal woes.
“If the election is a referendum on Joe Biden’s policies and the failures that we’ve seen, and we are presenting a positive vision for the future, we will win the presidency, and we will have a chance to turn the country around,” DeSantis said.
“If, on the other hand, the election is not about Jan. 20, 2025, but Jan. 6, 2021, or what document was left by the toilet at Mar-a-Lago, if it’s a referendum on that, we are going to lose.”