(Bloomberg) -- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said it was unlikely Republican frontrunner Donald Trump could win the White House if he is convicted in his criminal trials, offering some of his most strident comments yet on the former president’s legal challenges.
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“I think the chance of getting elected president after being convicted of a felony is as close to zero as you can get,” DeSantis said in an interview with the CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell that aired on Wednesday.
DeSantis was asked if voters would elect someone facing a total of 91 criminal counts.
“I didn’t think even before all this that the president should — former president — should have run again,” he said. “There’s too many voters who he’s a deal breaker for them.”
Earlier: All the Charges and Possible Prison Time Trump Now Faces
DeSantis’s tone marks a shift from earlier in the campaign when the Florida governor shied away from criticizing his chief rival for the GOP nomination.
In a July interview with CNN, DeSantis said he hoped Trump would not face charges in the Justice Department’s investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. That interview was interspersed by reports on Trump’s legal troubles, highlighting how they have overshadowed the Republican race and spurred prominent GOP figures to rally behind him.
DeSantis is a distant second to Trump in polls of Republican voters, with 12.9% in the RealClearPolitics average of polls to the former president’s 55.4%. DeSantis is performing better in early voting states like Iowa, where he only trails Trump by around 30 percentage points. But he has still struggled to close the gap with primary voting starting in four months when Iowa Republicans will caucus.
Trump last month was hit with his fourth round of criminal charges — in a case over his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia. That’s in addition to two federal indictments in Washington DC and Florida, as well as a case in New York state court.
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