DeSantis encouraged to defend Trump during GOP presidential primary debate

A memo by pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down gives instruction to go easy on Trump and defend him from Christie

By Kelly McClure

Nights & Weekends Editor

Published August 17, 2023 5:22PM (EDT)

Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

A two-page memo written by leaders of the super PAC Never Back Down gives detailed instruction on the ways in which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis should handle himself during next week's first GOP presidential primary debate.

First reported on by The New York Times, the memo encourages DeSantis to go easy on Trump in his absence at the debate, and also urges him to come to his defense in any instance where Chris Christie slings mud at the former president. "Defend Trump when Chris Christie attacks him," the memo instructs, going so far as to feed a line that could be used while on stage in Milwaukee, should the former NJ governor start up: "Trump isn't here so let's just leave him alone. He's too weak to defend himself here. We're all running against him. I don't think we want to join forces with someone on this stage who's auditioning for a show on MSNBC."

Elsewhere in the memo, instructions are given pertaining to how DeSantis should handle upstart contender Vivek Ramaswamy, pushing him to "take a sledge-hammer" to his opponent and refer to him as "fake" or "Vivek the Fake." On X, Ramaswamy responded to the planned attack writing, "Another boring, establishment attack from Super PAC-creation 'Robot Ron' who is literally taking lame, pre-programmed attack lines against me for next week's debate."  


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