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Here’s what Trump’s GOP 2024 rivals think about Maine blocking him from ballot

Vivek Ramaswamy has challenged the other candidates to withdraw from the ballot in states where Donald Trump is disqualified

Rachel Sharp
Friday 29 December 2023 14:22 GMT
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Donald Trump’s Republican rivals in the 2024 White House race have come out in support of the former president after he was struck from the ballot in Maine.

In a decision handed down on Thursday, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows blocked Mr Trump from appearing on the state ballot under the 14th Amendment, due to his role in inciting the January 6 Capitol riots.

Maine is now the second state to remove him from the ballot, after Colorado’s Supreme Court issued a similar ruling earlier this month.

Following the Colorado ruling, all four of Mr Trump’s rival GOP candidates put on something of a united front and spoke out to slam the move.

On Thursday, they all once again criticised the decision coming out of Maine.

Appearing on Fox News on Thursday night, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the decision “opens up Pandora’s box” – and pushed Mr Trump’s baseless claims that he is being targeted by Democrats for political reasons.

“The idea that one bureaucrat in an executive position can simply unilaterally disqualify someone from office, that turns on its head every notion of constitutional due process that this country has always abided by for over 200 years,” he said.

“It opens up Pandora’s box. Can you have a Republican secretary of state disqualify Biden from the ballot?”

The Florida governor went on to say that he believes the US Supreme Court will likely strike down the ruling – but that there will likely be mroe legal challenges to follow.

“I don’t think that this ultimately will be legally sustained by the US Supreme Court,” he said.

“But I do think that this is going to be a constant throughout the election year, where there’s going to be different parts of these legal cases that are going to be front and center,” DeSantis said.

“I think that we win when we hold Biden accountable and talk about the issues that matter to the American people. So I think the Democrats, they want the election to be about all these other issues. They do not want to face accountability for their failed policies.”

Vivek Ramaswamy – who claimed he would pull his own name off the Colorado ballot in protest at Mr Trump’s disqualification there – also put in an appearance on Fox News on Thursday night to blast the Maine decision.

“This is not an action of one person. This is the action of an entire system that has an anaphalactic reaction to one man,” he said.

“I’m concerned that they will not allow this man to get anywhere near the start line of the election, let alone the finiash line... this is not how we should want to win.”

Mr Ramaswamy once again vowed to remove himself from the ballot in Maine – echoing his stance after the Colorado ruling.

“I will voluntarily as a Republican candidate remove myself from any GOP primary ballot where one of my competitors, Donald Trump included, is forcibly removed through this unconstitutional manoeuvre,” he said.

The entrepreneur then issued a “challenge” to the other three GOP candidates to do the same.

“We then take Maine out of the GOP priamery process.... I challenge every one of my competitors to do the same thing,” he said.

Like Mr Trump, Chris Christie has also found himself struggling for a place on the primary ballot in Maine – but for different reasons.

The Maine secretary of state announced in early December that his campaign had fallen short of the threshold of votes needed in the state to qualify.

But, despite this, Mr Christie has also slammed the removal of Mr Trump.

The former New Jersey governor and one-time-ally-turned-foe of the former president said that the states removing Mr Trump from the ballot are only fuelling his message of him being a “martyr”.

“It makes him a martyr,” he told CNN.

“He’s very good at playing poor me, poor me. He’s always complaining, the poor billionaire from New Nork, who is spending everybody else’s money to pay his legal fees. Poor me.”

Mr Christie said that Mr Trump’s eligibility for the presidency should only be decided by voters.

The GOP candidates – minus Trump – at a debate in December (Getty Images)

“This should be decided by the voters of the United States. It should not be decided by courts. And the fact is, while there may be – people may think there’s a justification for doing this – it’s not good in our democracy,” he said.

“In the end, Donald Trump should be defeated by the voters at the polls and defeated by someone like me, who is willing to tell the truth about him.

“That’s the way we defeat him and we end the scourge of Donald Trump in our party and our country.”

Former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador Nikki Haley – who has faced her own reckoning this week after refusing to say that slavery caused the Civil War – echoed Mr Christie’s stance.

“Nikki will beat Trump fair and square. It should be up to voters to decide who gets elected,” her campaign said in a statement toThe New York Times.

In Maine, three challenges to Mr Trump’s nomination had been brought forward by Maine voters, citing his part in inciting an insurrection on 6 January 2021.

Ms Bellows agreed with the voters and found that Mr Trump’s 2024 candidate consent form is false because he is not qualified to hold the office of the president under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment – which finds that anyone who has “engaged in an insurrection” is barred from holding office

In the lead up to and on 6 January 2021, Mr Trump “used a false narrative of election fraud to inflame his supporters and direct them to the Capitol to prevent certification of the 2020 election and the peaceful transfer of power”, she wrote.

She added that Mr Trump “was aware of the likelihood for violence and at least initially supported its use given he both encouraged it with incendiary rhetoric and took no timely action to stop it” – and that his “occasional requests that rioters be peaceful and support law enforcement do not immunize his actions”.

Trump supporters storm the US Capitol on January 6 2021 (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Ms Bellows wrote that she did not “reach this conclusion lightly”.

“I am mindful that no Secretary of State has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment. I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection,” she wrote.

“The events of January 6, 2021 were unprecedented and tragic. They were an attack not only upon the Capitol and government officials, but also an attack on the rule of law. The evidence here demonstrates that they occurred at the behest of, and with the knowledge and support of, the outgoing President.

“The U.S. Constitution does not tolerate an assault on the foundations of our government, and Section 336 requires me to act in response.”

The decision has been suspended until the Superior Court rules on any appeal, or the time to appeal the decision – five days – has expired.

Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung issued a statement slamming the decision and branding the secretary of state “a virulent leftist and a hyper-partisan Biden-supporting Democrat”.

”We will quickly file a legal objection in state court to prevent this atrocious decision in Maine from taking effect, and President Trump will never stop fighting to Make America Great Again,” he said.

Prior to the ruling in Maine, the Colorado Supreme Court struck Mr Trump from the 2024 presidential election ballot under the 14th Amendment earlier this month.

Colorado Republicans have asked the US Supreme Court to intervene in the ruling and overturn it.

Mr Trump’s future is also currently hanging in the balance across several other states where lawsuits continue to play out.

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