Donald Trump told supporters at an influential campaign event in Iowa that he was the only Republican candidate capable of beating President Joe Biden.
The former president took the stage at the Lincoln Day Dinner with his main rival Ron DeSantis and several other candidates in the race to become the party’s 2024 nominee.
While his competitors have largely refused to talk about Mr. Assetongoing legal issues, the former president made a veiled reference saying, “If I didn’t show up, no one would sue me.”
He also insisted the same would be the case if he fell behind in the polls.
The other Republican candidates have mostly reserved their harshest criticisms for Mr. Biden and a Democratic party they say has lost touch with mainstream America.
“The time for apologies is over. We have to get the job done,” DeSantis told about 1,200 Republican Party members and activists.
“I will do the job,” he said.
The Florida governor also reiterated his promise to end “arming” the Justice Department, alluding to Mr Trump’s indictments.
Mr Trump, who has a comfortable lead in the polls, has sharply criticized his rivals. He repeatedly tagged Mr. DeSantis “DeSanctus” and said, “I wouldn’t take a chance with that one.”
As he opened a campaign office outside Iowa’s capital, Des Moines, before dinner, Mr Trump said: “I understand that other candidates are falling very flat…it’s like the death.”
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Mr. Trump frequently avoids attending events involving other candidates, wondering why he would share a stage with competitors who trail him in the polls.
While most Republican candidates refused to criticize him, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison said, “As a party, we need a new direction for America and for the GOP. “, drawing only subdued reactions from the crowd.
Will Hurd, a former congressman from Texas, faced loud boos when he said: “The reason Donald Trump lost the election in 2020 is because he failed to grow the brand. GOP.
“Donald Trump is not running for president to make America great again…Donald Trump is running so he won’t go to jail.”
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The Iowa caucus, one of the first contests in the Republican nomination race, is scheduled to take place in January 2024.
Trump is confronted several criminal and civil investigations and was charged twice.
On Friday, federal documents indicated he was facing new fees over classified documents he allegedly took to the White House, including deleting CCTV footage of his staff moving boxes at his Florida home.
A trial in this case is due to begin May 20, 2024 – just weeks before the Republican and Democratic National Conventions where each party’s nominees are expected to be announced.