DeSantis challenges Trump: ‘Why are you running?’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Sunday asked whether former President Trump was seeking a second term in the White House to fulfill his personal retribution against his perceived enemies or to help improve the future of everyday Americans.

When asked on on NBC’s “Meet the Press” about Trump campaigning on promises to get back at his enemies, DeSantis challenged the former president with a single question: “Why are you running?”

“If he’s running for personal retribution, that is not going to lead to what we need as a country,” the governor said. “You got to be running for the American people and their issues, not about your own personal issues. And that is a distinction between us. I am focused on the folks. I am focused on what they want to see done for this country in a positive direction. I’m the vessel, but ultimately, it’s not about me.”

DeSantis was responding to a question from anchor Kristen Welker about Trump campaigning on promises “to jail his political enemies” and whether he condemns the use of the term “vermin” that Trump used to refer to his political opponents.

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“I don’t use the term,” DeSantis said “But what I don’t do is play the media’s game where I’m asked to referee other people. He’s responsible for his words. He’s responsible for his conduct. I’m responsible for mine.”

DeSantis claimed that the U.S. government is “out of control” through the “weaponization” of the FBI, IRS and Department of Justice, a claim that Trump has also made.

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“I’m going to end that weaponization,” DeSantis said. “But that’s not because I’m doing it for me. It’s because I’m doing it for the people that have been under the thumb of these agencies, and I’m going to restore the rule of law.”

DeSantis remains a distant second to Trump in polling and is facing new pressure from the campaign of former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has been rising in early-state polls and picked up the support of Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of the powerful Koch network.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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