Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears to have learned from a key mistake he made during the first Republican presidential debate.
DeSantis, who joined six other Republican contenders for the second primary debate Wednesday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif., sought to portray himself as best-placed to target conservatives. Agenda to bring candidates to the White House next year, while also fending off attacks from rivals.
The debate is a do-or-die moment for the governor, who faces questions about his ability to compete on a national platform as his poll numbers have risen in recent weeks, even as he is believed to be the most elected Republican. doubts about ability. Defeated former President Donald Trump for the nomination.
The governor showed a stronger sense of leadership Wednesday night than he did in the first debate, a performance that received a lukewarm response from political observers. Perhaps no moment showed his change in attitude more than in the final minutes of the debate.
Fox News host Dana Perino asked the candidates to write down the name of the candidate they thought should drop out of the race as the final question in the debate.
“It is now clear that if you all stayed in the race, former President Donald Trump would win the nomination. Not one of you has indicated that you are withdrawing, so which of you on stage tonight should be voted out of office? Please Use a marker to write your choices on a notepad in front of you,” Perino said.
DeSantis, however, led the candidates in refusing to do so.
“With all due respect, I would refuse to do that. I mean, we’re here. We’re happy to debate. I think it’s disrespectful to my competitors. Let’s talk about the future of the country,” he said.
Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley also asked Perino, “Are you serious?” Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie finally gave the answer, saying Trump should drop out of the race.
DeSantis declined to answer the question, marking a shift during the first presidential debate a month ago, when he was watching how other candidates responded when asked whether they would still support Trump even if he was convicted. Trump was criticized as a presidential candidate. in the court. “
Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum raised their hands while DeSantis raised his hand It seemed like a look around at the other candidates had prompted ridicule from the Trump campaign, who mocked his “pathetic” X (formerly Twitter) post.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, whose relationship with Trump soured after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, raised his hand after DeSantis. Ultimately, Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who was ineligible for the second debate, were the only two candidates who did not commit to supporting the former president if he were convicted.
Weekly newspaper CNN reached out to the DeSantis campaign via email late Wednesday night for comment.