Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis just watched a Manhattan grand jury indict his state’s most powerful resident.
And DeSantis, the leading rival of former President Donald Trump heading into the 2024 Republican presidential primary, made a bold promise.
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He said that Florida would not cooperate with any requests to extradite Trump to New York.
“Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda,” DeSantis tweeted Thursday.
He continued, “The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head. It is un-American.”
In recent history, interstate relations have depended on every state allowing its residents to be extradited without even a second thought.
However, some Democrat governors, like Connecticut’s Ned Lamont, had already signed laws protecting their residents from extradition even after providing abortions in other states. Before that, individual states hadn’t been giving orders to other states since the days of fugitive slave laws.
In any case, DeSantis promises executive involvement.
The Florida governor has yet to announce a campaign for president, but he has long refused to rule one out. Trump, on the other hand, began his campaign more than four months ago.
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The governor’s statement omitted any mention of Trump’s name.
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The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head.
It is un-American.
The Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney has consistently bent the law to downgrade felonies and to excuse criminal misconduct. Yet, now he is…
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 30, 2023
Some voters prefer DeSantis over Trump due to the Florida governor’s lack of scandals. Ever since the news of Trump’s legal woes, these voters have preferred DeSantis even more.
“Personally, I’d rather see DeSantis win the Republican primary than Trump,” Florida attorney Jim McKee told the Associated Press on Monday. “Trump has upset so many people,” McKee says. “DeSantis is more palatable. He has a good story to tell.”
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But Trump continues to dominate DeSantis in polling — and the distance is growing.
By not engaging more directly with the former president in particular, DeSantis is adopting a similar playbook as Trump’s dispatched 2016 Republican rivals — including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — who ignored Trump for much of that campaign. Each ultimately went on the attack more directly, but by that time, Trump had built an insurmountable lead.
“DeSantis will not shrink from the fight. That’s not how he’s operated in Florida politics to this point,” former state Rep. Matt Caldwell told the outlet. Caldwell shared the statewide ballot with DeSantis in 2018 as a candidate for state agriculture commissioner.
He added, “One could argue that he’s got the upper hand, so he’s only engaging when he has to.”
Instead of 2016, Caldwell likened Trump’s challenges in 2024 to the 1996 presidential election when President Bill Clinton faced serious allegations of sexual impropriety that nearly sank his reelection.
“At end of the day, this is just a hubbub about money and sex, which isn’t a whole lot different from 1996,” Caldwell said. “I don’t like this, and I didn’t like ’96. But Bill Clinton won reelection.”
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.