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Casey DeSantis encourages Republicans nationwide to vote in Iowa caucus | Ron DeSantis


Casey DeSantis encourages Republicans nationwide to vote in Iowa caucus | Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis

On Fox News, wife of Ron DeSantis mistakenly invites ‘moms and grandmoms’ to cross state lines and illegally vote in caucus

Casey DeSantis, the wife of Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis, has upset party officials in Iowa by urging her husband’s supporters from around the US to “descend” on the state and illegally take part in next month’s caucuses.

The former television news reporter, who has become the Florida governor’s chief supporter on the campaign trail, made the faux-pas during an appearance with him on Fox News on Friday, in which she wrongly stated it was legal for out-of-state residents to participate.

“We’re asking all of these moms and grandmoms to come from wherever it might be, North Carolina, South Carolina and to descend upon the state of Iowa to be a part of the caucus,” she said, citing a Mamas for DeSantis coalition of 1.1 million mothers and grandmothers she said was influential in Florida during his 2022 re-election.

“You do not have to be a resident of Iowa to be able to participate in the caucus. So moms and grandmas are going to be able to come and be a part and let their voice be heard and support Ron.”

Unfortunately for Ron DeSantis, who has made clamping down on perceived election fraud a central plank of his second term in the Florida governor’s mansion, they cannot. Iowa law, as the state’s Republican party was forced to point out in a tweet, restricts caucus voting to legal residents of the state with photo ID, and Iowa students living out of state who can choose where they register.

The episode drew much mockery and criticism online of Casey DeSantis, who in turn engaged in some hasty damage limitation. A tweet on her own X account dated Friday night, several hours after the TV appearance, acknowledged voting was limited to registered voters in Iowa but insisted there were other ways to “participate”, including to come “from all over the country to volunteer in support of Ron DeSantis”.

The video of her specifically stating outsiders were allowed to “be a part” of the caucus, however, remained.

Michael McDonald, an elections specialist and professor of political science at the University of Florida, was among those pointing out that non-Iowans who tried to do so would be breaking the law.

“Just Casey DeSantis encouraging people to cross a border and vote illegally in Iowa,” he wrote in a tweet.

Others focused on her husband’s clampdown in Florida, which included a new office dedicated to the investigation of election crimes despite little evidence of voter fraud, and the prosecution of formerly incarcerated people who voted illegally despite being told by the state that they could. Courts have dismissed many of those cases.

“I just found some election fraud,” independent journalist Aaron Rupar wrote on X alongside the clip of Casey DeSantis’s remarks.

The campaign of Donald Trump, the former president and runaway leader in the chase for the 2024 Republican nomination, also seized the opportunity to capitalize on the mistake.

“Casey DeSantis’ embrace of voter fraud to salvage her husband’s failing campaign is not just wrong, it risks compromising the integrity of the Iowa caucus,” spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said in a statement.

“This type of irresponsible and desperate rhetoric must be addressed by both Ron DeSantis and [Iowa] Governor Kim Reynolds, who campaigned for election integrity and was elected to protect the votes of Iowans. Both governors DeSantis and Reynolds must reject and condemn these comments and apologize to the great people of Iowa.”

Trump leads the polling for the Iowa caucuses, which take place on 15 January, by some distance. He has 43.7% support, according to the RCP average of polls, with DeSantis a distant second at 18.7%.

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