Trump and DeSantis to hold dueling campaign events in New Hampshire after squabbling over timing

Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are set to hold dueling campaign events in New Hampshire

Michelle L. Price,Holly Ramer
Tuesday 27 June 2023 05:09 BST
Election 2024 Trump DeSantis
Election 2024 Trump DeSantis (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will hold dueling campaign events Tuesday in New Hampshire after some squabbling over the close timing of the appearances.

DeSantis, who released an immigration and border security policy proposal on Monday, was set to appear at a town hall event in Hollis, while Trump, the leading GOP presidential candidate, was scheduled to speak at a lunch in Concord hosted by a Republican women's club and attend the opening of his campaign's state office in Manchester.

The New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women, which is hosting Trump, issued a statement last week saying it was disappointed with the DeSantis campaign for scheduling a town hall around the same time as its own event — 40 miles (64 kilometers) away and a couple of hours before.

The group branded it “an attempt to steal focus from” the organization’s sold-out “Lilac Luncheon” fundraiser and said that other presidential candidates had scheduled around the event. It also said it had asked DeSantis to reschedule, to apparently no avail.

Two members of the women's group, however, posted on Twitter that they disagreed with the statement. One, former state lawmaker Melissa Blasek, said she was resigning her membership in the group over what she called “a cheap campaign stunt" that appeared to be motivated by the Trump campaign, which sent out its own press release sharing the statement.

When asked to comment on the statement, the DeSantis campaign did not address the issue but said the governor is working to ensure his message “reaches every last primary voter in New Hampshire, and we have a top-notch organization in the state to help him do that.”

“We are confident that the governor’s message will resonate with voters in New Hampshire as he continues to visit the Granite State and detail his solutions to Joe Biden’s failures,” the campaign's press press secretary Bryan Griffin said in a statement.

Since launching his campaign last month, DeSantis has largely sought to project himself as more conservative than the former president in an attempt to dethrone him as the party's dominant figure. The governor has asserted he would appoint more conservative Supreme Court justices than the three Trump appointed to the court, criticized Trump for implying the six-week abortion ban in Florida is “too harsh” and accused Trump of having generally “moved left.”

While conservative bona fides are important in heavily GOP states like Iowa, the leadoff caucus state, they're politically trickier in New Hampshire, a political battleground state.

Trump's first-place finish in New Hampshire's 2016 Republican primary — after losing Iowa to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas — helped propel him to dominance in the party. But his Democratic rivals ended up winning the state in both the 2016 and 2020 general elections.

And while DeSantis has spoken about the abortion ban he signed while on the campaign trail among conservative audiences and in Iowa and South Carolina, he has generally not raised it when speaking to crowds in more moderate New Hampshire.

On Monday, DeSantis held a campaign event in the Texas border city of Eagle Pass to unveil his first major policy plan, a proposal on immigration and border security that calls for ending birthright citizenship, finishing the U.S.-Mexico wall and sending U.S. forces into Mexico to combat drug cartels. The plan largely mirrors Trump’s policies and faces long odds, requiring the reversal of legal precedents, approval from other countries or even an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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