DeSantis makes his case against Trump

    While Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hesitated to criticize Donald Trump’s recent controversial comments, he did lay out his case against the former president during his appearance on “Meet the Press.”

    “Republican voters are going to have the choice of Donald Trump, which I think would make the election a referendum on him and a lot of the issues that he’s dealing with — or me, and that will be a referendum on Biden’s failures, on all the issues in the country that are affecting people, and I’ll be able to stand for a positive vision going forward,” he said. “We have a much better chance if we’re doing it with me as the candidate.”

    The Florida governor also criticized Trump’s failure to undo the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, saying the former president’s recent comments that he would work to repeal the law are “part of a pattern where he’s running on things that he didn’t do.”

    DeSantis pledged to “replace and supersede [Obamacare] with a better plan,” but he declined to share any details. He also did not directly answer whether he would sign a federal ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, arguing that such a ban could not pass Congress. 

    DeSantis’ appearance on “Meet the Press” came as he visited all 99 counties in Iowa, underscoring his focus on the Hawkeye State, per NBC’s Alec Hernández and Bianca Seward. And DeSantis told “Meet the Press” that he is going to win the Iowa caucuses, saying it was “absurd” to think he would drop out before the contests. 

    Meanwhile, the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down continues to grab headlines amid internal turmoil. The group has named its third CEO, DeSantis ally Scott Wagner, in less than two weeks, per NBC’s Dasha Burns, Matt Dixon and Jonathan Allen.

    In other campaign news … 

    Trump on the trail: Trump attempted to turn the tables on President Joe Biden at a campaign rally over the weekend, labeling him “the destroyer of American democracy,” per The Associated Press.

    Biden’s balancing act: Biden faces a “dilemma” over immigration, write NBC’s Peter Nicholas, Mike Memoli and Julia Ainsley, as he tries to balance addressing a border crisis and appealing to crucial Hispanic voters.  

    That pesky Hatch Act: The Office of Special Counsel found that top Biden White House spokespeople ran afoul of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal officials from engaging in campaign activity, by using the term “MAGA,” per NBC’s Katherine Doyle.

    A second Trump presidency: The New York Times explores “why a second Trump presidency may be more radical than his first.”

    Trump trials: Trump’s efforts to dismiss his federal election interference failed Friday after a federal judge dismissed his team’s motions. In the Georgia election interference case, Trump’s attorney argued against the request for an August trial, suggesting it would influence the upcoming election.

    Write-in push gets a boost: A new pro-Biden super PAC is launching in New Hampshire to encourage Democrats to write Biden’s name on the primary ballot, per Politico. 

    Tough crowd: In her campaign for Senate in Arizona, former news anchor Kari Lake is struggling to connect with moderate GOP voters whom she once referred to as RINOs, or “Republicans in Name Only,” The Washington Post reports.

    He’s running: Businessman Sandy Pensler entered the race for Michigan’s open Senate seat Friday, joining almost a dozen other GOP candidates seeking to flip the seat.

    Extra time: A U.S. district judge extended the deadline for Louisiana to submit newly drawn congressional district lines for review, after a federal judge ruled earlier this year that the current map violates the Voting Rights Act.