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DeSantis swipes at Trump’s Civil War comments, says he won’t drop out and endorse

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(GRIMES, Iowa) — In a new interview with ABC News, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis swiped at former President Donald Trump’s suggestion that an end to the Civil War could have been negotiated with slave-holding states.

DeSantis also gave his firmest answer yet that he’s staying in the 2024 race — and not planning a Trump endorsement — regardless of whether he wins or loses the Iowa caucuses next week, having failed to catch Trump in polling.

Speaking with ABC’s Rachel Scott while campaigning in Grimes, Iowa, on Sunday, DeSantis was asked what he thought about Trump’s new comments on the Civil War as a Republican leader himself in the party of Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln, as president, fought against the Confederacy to preserve the country that had fractured because southern states wanted to continue practicing slavery.

“I don’t even know what he’s talking about,” DeSantis told Scott of Trump’s remarks. “I mean, Lincoln did what he had to do. He ended up ushering in the abolition of slavery and he saved the Union. That’s a huge victory for the Republican Party.”

“So, I don’t know. Relitigating that doesn’t make much sense to me,” DeSantis added.

He went on take a dig at Trump for his long and at times rambling speeches.

Trump, appearing in Newton, Iowa, for a campaign event on Saturday, said this about the Civil War: “If you take a look, I mean the wars, I don’t know what it is — the Civil War was so fascinating. So horrible, was so horrible, but so fascinating.”

“And it was, I don’t know, it was just different, I just find it — I’m so attracted to seeing it, so many mistakes were made,” he said.

Then, he indicated that the Civil War could have been avoided through negotiation.

“See there was something I think could’ve been negotiated to be honest with you. I think you could’ve negotiated that. All the people died, so many people died,” he said.

“Abraham Lincoln, of course if he negotiated it, you probably wouldn’t even know who Abraham Lincoln was,” Trump continued.

He didn’t expand on what possible negotiations to end the Civil War should’ve included, though he regularly touts his preference for deal-making as part of his political prowess.

Last year, for example, Trump claimed that as president he could end the Ukraine-Russia war, prompted by Russia’s invasion, in just one day.

In a statement, a Trump spokesperson slammed critics of what he said about the Civil War, blaming “elitists” for “spew[ing] their hatred.”

DeSantis, in his ABC News interview, also sought to change expectations for his performance in Iowa in just a few days — having previously boasted of running to win there in order to catapult himself forward in the race against Trump.

On Sunday he said he plans to do “well” in the caucuses but promised to stay in the primary for the “long haul” regardless of the results.

“We’ve done everything we need to do,” he said.

About a week after the caucuses, DeSantis will compete in the New Hampshire primary but has lost substantial ground there, per polls, and now trails rival Nikki Haley.

“I like to be written off. I like to be the underdog,” he told Scott.

Trump has said on the campaign trail that DeSantis is going to leave the race right after Iowa and endorse him.

“That’s a lie, totally fabricated,” DeSantis told ABC News. “But, you know, they do that because they want some of the caucusgoers to think, well, I’ll do it.”

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