Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican presidential candidate, has come forward in defense of former President Donald Trump after news of Trump’s indictment broke out. DeSantis accused the Department of Justice of weaponizing federal law enforcement, which he claims is a threat to a free society. He also highlighted the uneven application of the law, depending on political affiliation, wondering why the DOJ is so diligent in pursuing Trump and yet so passive in cases related to Hillary Clinton and Hunter Biden.

DeSantis is considered Trump’s most viable alternative in the GOP but has grappled with how to challenge the ex-president without alienating fervent supporters. Even though he publicly highlights their differences on handling Covid-19 and takes constant, oft-veiled jabs at Trump’s electability, he is conscious of not offending the political base that continues to grow emboldened in support of Trump.

Meanwhile, presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy has pledged to pardon Trump if he becomes president, calling news of Trump’s federal indictment “an affront to every citizen.” He blamed the two-tiered justice system and expressed concerns about the disparity of justice in cases concerning different groups.

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, have either remained silent or stated that they require more information before commenting.

DeSantis’ statement displays the limits of how much he is willing to take Trump on. He is strategically opposing Trump without upsetting Trump’s supporters. As he runs for president, his main task is to appeal to the broadest group of voters without detracting support from his base. DeSantis knows he needs to navigate this tightrope as the 2024 presidential race gathers momentum.

DeSantis’ recent statement showcases his relationship with Trump and the discussions among Republican candidates about the recent Trump federal indictment. It’s a political hot potato that many are either avoiding or using to solidify their support.

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