Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is putting pressure on former President Trump to participate in the first GOP presidential debate next month, saying in an interview Wednesday that “he needs to step up and do it.”
“Nobody is entitled to this nomination. You have got to earn the nomination and doing things like The Family Leader event in Iowa, doing things like these debates — they’re important parts of the process,” DeSantis said on “The Howie Carr Show” Wednesday.
“Every candidate needs to be put to the test, and I think he needs to step up and do it,” he added later.
DeSantis is among a number of GOP candidates who will join a forum in Iowa this week hosted by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. The Trump campaign cited a scheduling conflict.
DeSantis also took a jab at Trump during his interview Wednesday over what he called the former president’s failure to deliver on his promises during his first term in office, such as “draining the swamp” and “building the wall.”
“So he should debate, he should go to all these things and see if he can earn it with his vision,” DeSantis said.
The Florida governor added some of Trump’s proposed ideas like having parents electing school principals “are not good ideas.”
Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung fired back at DeSantis in an email to The Hill, saying the governor “should focus on his own flailing campaign rife with internal conflict and subversion among his closest supporters, instead of throwing a temper tantrum because he is losing so badly.”
“He doesn’t have an original thought in that minor league brain of his, so that’s why he’s been stealing President Trump’s policy ideas from Day One,” he added.
DeSantis’s latest comments come as Trump has not yet formally said whether he will participate in the party’s first presidential debate, which is slated for Aug. 23 in Milwaukee.
Some Republican contenders have complained about some of the criteria needed to qualify for the debate stage, including signing a loyalty pledge saying that they will support the eventual GOP nominee.
Trump has been noncommittal about backing the eventual Republican presidential nominee if it’s not him.