LTP News Sharing:

AP Photo/Ashley Landis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis capitalized on former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley’s flub on what caused the Civil War. 

DeSantis was quick to criticize Haley at an Ankeny campaign stop Thursday morning. He told reporters she is “not a candidate that’s ready for prime time.”

“The minute that she faces any kind of scrutiny, she tends to cave,” DeSantis said. “I think that that’s what you saw yesterday. Not that difficult to identify and acknowledge the role slavery played in the Civil War, and yet that seemed to be something that was really difficult.”

Where was this Ron DeSantis two debates ago? While campaigning in Iowa, DeSantis was asked this similar question posed to Haley on Wednesday. Here’s his response.

Q: What would your answer be that Haley got in terms of the cause, the primary cause of the Civil War?

DeSantis: Of course you had the issue of slavery. You had the states that were concerned about Lincoln interfering and potentially eliminating it. And they viewed it as a state’s rights issue not as a federal issue, and they were concerned. You have this Republican President who may come in and get rid of the institution of slavery, and you know, it’s interesting because the Republican Party was founded to put a stop to the growth of slavery in this country, and the abolition of slavery was to this day, remains the party’s top achievement. And it was a partisan achievement, because the people that were fighting Lincoln, the people that wanted to preserve slavery, they were Democrats. So, the Republican Party did that and that’s something that you should acknowledge and be proud of as a Republican.

Had Haley uttered the word “slavery,” in her initial response and connected the dots that the political party she claims was founded on blunting the expansion of and ultimate abolition of slavery, she wouldn’t be getting dragged. Brittanica’s simple summary would have even sufficed:

During the 19th century the Republican Party stood against the extension of slavery to the country’s new territories and, ultimately, for slavery’s complete abolition.

The tragic part of DeSantis’ statement is this: the Republican Party has not been able to claim a “top achievement” for 170 years. There are a few they could tout: the appointment of Supreme Court justices who were instrumental in the overturn of Roe v. Wade comes to mind. But most Republicans are too cowardly and denatured by donors and polls to do that. Frankly, if every candidate running under the Republican Party banner makes it their goal to secure more achievements for the American people, they will make huge wins in 2024 from the top of the ticket to the bottom.