A state high court's decision that the Republican White House front-runner is disqualified from office might seem like a pretty good opportunity for his ostensible Republican rivals.
But in an era of loudmouth politics, ushered in by former President Donald J. Trump, only Trump seems capable of crushing anyone in the mouth. So, with less than four weeks until the Iowa caucuses, the Colorado Supreme Court's Tuesday ruling — that Trump was disqualified from the state's primary under a section of the 14th Amendment that holds that “no person shall” holding “any position, “civil or military” that had “participated in an insurrection or rebellion” – was apparently off limits.
Trump still appears to be the one who sets the parameters for legitimate debate in the Republican Party, even if he doesn't participate in the party's actual debates.
“We don't need judges to make these decisions,” Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor who is rising in the polls but still far behind Trump, told reporters in Agency, Iowa, on Tuesday.
Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida not only refrained from attacking his main rival, but also developed a conspiracy theory to suggest that the ruling was a plot against him to help Trump.
“What the left, the media, and the Democrats are doing: They're doing all this, basically to solidify support for him in the primaries, get him into the general election, and the whole general election is going to be all this legal stuff. ”DeSantis said Wednesday, speaking at the Westside Conservative Club breakfast in Iowa.
At a restaurant outside Des Moines, he asked reporters: “Are we going to litigate this matter for how many more years in the future? “I think we have to start focusing on people's problems.”
Vivek Ramaswamy, the businessman who has clung the tightest to Trump's pants during the primary season, even went so far as to to pledge solidarity and withdraw his own name on the Colorado ballot, and demanded that other candidates do the same. Ramaswamy, a biotech financier who has spent millions of his own dollars on his campaign, lashed out at “the unelected elite class in the back halls of the palace” while sitting in the back of his well-appointed campaign bus. .
Even Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor whose long-running race for the Republican nomination has centered on questioning the front-runner's suitability for the job, demurred, focusing not on the Colorado judges' conclusions but on their timing.
“I don't think a court should exclude someone from running for president without there being a trial and evidence accepted by a jury that they participated in the insurrection,” he said Tuesday night during a town hall event in New Hampshire.
The heart of the Republican primary season is just weeks away: Iowa voters will gather on January 15, and the first primary of the year, New Hampshire, will take place on January 23. If anything, the former president's lead seems only to grow. . He leads his closest Republican competitors in the primary by more than 50 percentage points, according to a new New York Times/Siena College poll, attracting 64 percent of Republican primary voters nationwide.
However, its rivals apparently remain unwilling to take real risks that could shake up the momentum. Republican primary voters have overwhelmingly decided that every new legal challenge to Trump's actions to cling to power after losing the 2020 election, every ruling in cases involving the way he conducted business, treated women or handled classified material, it's all just not relevant to your votes.
More than one in five Republican voters believe Trump has committed crimes, and 13 percent of Republicans believe he should be found guilty in court for trying to overturn the 2020 election, but most of those voters also say he still This is how they would cast their vote. for him.
So, his rivals ask, why insist on it?
“I guess that state has the right to remove Trump from the ballot if it wants to,” Tim Robbins, 72, a farmer and Iowa Republican, said of the Colorado ruling after an appearance by Ms. Haley. “But I think people should decide. It is the decision of the people, not the State.”
He added that he agreed with Ms. Haley's hands-off approach: “I don't need anyone to tell me what to think about another person,” he said. “I'll draw my own conclusions.”
On Wednesday, it seemed like only two people in the White House race wanted to talk about the Colorado ruling: Trump, who sent out fundraising appeals in emails with the subject lines “REMOVED FROM BALLOT” and “REMOVED FROM BALLOT,” and President Biden, who said Trump “certainly supported an insurrection.”
“You saw it all,” the president told reporters Wednesday. “Now, if the 14th Amendment applies, I'll let the court make that decision.”
There is no evidence to suggest Biden has any ties to the Colorado case, or that he meddled in any of the four pending criminal cases against Trump. But on his social network, Trump was telling the story that paralyzed his rivals for the nomination or caused hosannas in the competition.
“BIDEN SHOULD WITHDRAW ALL THESE FALSE POLITICAL ACCUSATIONS AGAINST ME, BOTH CRIMINAL AND CIVIL,” he wrote. “EVERY CASE I FIGHT IS THE WORK OF THE DOJ AND THE WHITE HOUSE.”
miguel gold, Jazmín Ulloa and Nicolas Nehamas contributed reports.
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