MIAMI — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that he believes going after an opponent’s children is “out of bounds” in political warfare.
DeSantis, however, goes after President Joe Biden’s son on a weekly basis.
In an interview with Fox News, DeSantis said he disagreed with Vivek Ramaswamy bringing up former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley’s daughter in a discussion about TikTok during the presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News on Wednesday night. He cautioned against dragging family members into the political fray.
“I think the kids are out of bounds. I didn’t think that was an appropriate thing to do,” said DeSantis, who has three young children.
“I keep the kids out of it for sure,” he added of his own conduct.
But out on the campaign trail, the governor does not shy from making a punchline out of Hunter Biden, 53, joking about his history of addiction and embarrassing details of his personal life that have surfaced publicly.
While Hunter Biden is an adult, so is Haley’s daughter — albeit a few decades younger than the president’s son. Both, however, are politicians’ children who are not in elected office.
For example, DeSantis has repeatedly mentioned Hunter Biden during his stump speech when talking about banning explicit material from Florida public schools — a response to critics who say the DeSantis administration has banned books about gender identity and sexual orientation.
“You want to do adult material? Do that on your own time,” DeSantis told a crowd at a campaign event in Murrells Inlet, S.C., in October.
But then came the quip: “Hey, go look at Hunter Biden’s laptop for all I care, just keep it away from our kids.”
The line refers to information released from Hunter Biden’s personal laptop, which has fueled stories and questions about his personal life, drug use and finances. His lawyers have said that allies of former President Donald Trump trafficked in information stolen from the device.
And at a rally where he received an endorsement from Iowa’s popular Gov. Kim Reynolds, DeSantis brandished another favorite crack at Biden’s second-oldest son.
“When we’re in the White House, the only thing our kids are going to be bringing back is homework, not cocaine,” DeSantis said to an amused crowd on Monday evening during a speech in Des Moines, implying — without evidence — that the president’s son was connected to the cocaine found in the White House earlier this year.
The Secret Service closed its investigation into the origin of the substance in July without identifying a culprit.
The jokes, meant as mocking asides to DeSantis’ broader campaign themes, often draw laughter and applause from crowds.
In a statement to NBC News, DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffin said there was a distinction between the governor’s attacks on Hunter Biden and Ramaswamy’s reference to Haley’s daughter.
“Hunter Biden is an adult who has likely committed criminal activity and leveraged his father’s time in the White House to get lucrative contracts and payments from foreign entities. He’s inserted himself into the national dialogue through his own actions,” Griffin said. “There is clearly a distinction between him and family members of other political figures who would only be relevant by association,” Griffin added.
In September, federal prosecutors indicted Hunter Biden on three counts tied to possession of a gun while using narcotics. He has pleaded not guilty.
But many Republican swipes against Hunter Biden are based on unproven theories and occasionally veer into personal attacks.
DeSantis isn’t the only GOP candidate to consistently go after the Biden family. Ramaswamy, 38, has long spread the conspiracy theory that the United States is funding Ukraine only because of Hunter Biden’s business dealings, including at the debate Wednesday evening.
“Joe Biden sold off our foreign policy,” Ramaswamy said without any evidence to support his claim. “Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden got a $5 million bribe from Ukraine. That’s why we’re sending $200 billion back to that same country,” Ramaswamy said on the debate stage.
Ramaswamy appeared to be referring to an alleged bribe involving the president and his son. House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., has claimed he was told by a whistleblower — whose claims are uncorroborated — about a tip regarding a $5 million payment from a foreign national to Joe Biden, then the vice president, and a family member “relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions.”
As for the South Carolinians at the debate, Sen. Tim Scott and Haley, they typically go after Hunter Biden when it relates to his criminal investigations.
“It doesn’t take four years for the evidence and the information about Hunter Biden’s transactions, from drugs to guns to contracts, to come to the surface unless there are forces within the DOJ suppressing that information,” Scott said on Iowa news radio host Scott Conway’s show in July. Scott has long argued the handling of Hunter Biden’s criminal indictments is proof that the Department of Justice is corrupt, calling the department’s activity “disgusting, ugly, nasty, biased weaponizing.”
Haley has encouraged the House impeachment inquiry into the business dealings of the president and his son, but she has — unlike some of the other candidates — refrained from making personal attacks against Hunter Biden.
And of course, no candidate has gone after Hunter Biden more than Trump, who was impeached in 2019 for his attempts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to find dirt on Hunter Biden and his father. On Wednesday evening, while counterprogramming the debate with a rally in Hialeah, Florida, Trump said the United States is a nation “where Hunter Biden’s laptop from hell was Russian disinformation and the FBI knew it wasn’t.”
Source: | This article originally belongs to Nbcnews.com