“DeSantis Dismisses Trump’s 2020 Election Theories as False”


Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said that claims about the 2020 election being stolen were false, directly contradicting a central argument of former President Donald J. Trump and his supporters.

The comments went further than Mr. DeSantis typically goes when asked about Mr. Trump’s defeat. The governor has often tried to hedge, refusing to acknowledge that the election was fairly conducted. In his response on Friday, Mr. DeSantis did not mention Mr. Trump by name — saying merely that such theories were “unsubstantiated.” But the implication was clear.

“All those theories that were put out did not prove to be true,” Mr. DeSantis said in response to a reporter’s question after a campaign event at a brewery in Northeast Iowa.

The more aggressive response comes a day after Mr. Trump was arraigned on charges related to his plot to overturn the 2020 election. As he has courted Mr. Trump’s voters, Mr. DeSantis has blasted the prosecution as politically motivated and has said that he did not want to see Mr. Trump charged. His new comments suggest that Mr. Trump’s legal peril may have altered his political calculation.

Later in the day, Mr. DeSantis suggested that he would pardon Mr. Trump, should the former president be convicted in the election case.

“I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the country to have a former president that’s almost 80 years old go to prison,” he told reporters at a campaign stop in Waverly, Iowa. It was an answer that, by invoking Mr. Trump’s age, also served to highlight the contrast with Mr. DeSantis, who is 44.

“And just like Ford pardoned Nixon, sometimes you’ve got to put this stuff behind you, and we need to start focusing on things having to do with the country’s future,” Mr. DeSantis said, and added: “This election needs to be about Jan. 20, 2025, not Jan. 6, 2021.”

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