By James Oliphant and Brian Snyder

CONCORD, New Hampshire (Reuters) -Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis supplied a stinging rebuke of rival Donald Trump on Friday, arguing that Trump would try and “de-legitimize the outcomes” if he loses in an early nominating state corresponding to Iowa or New Hampshire subsequent month.

“If Trump loses, he’ll say it is stolen it doesn’t matter what, completely,” DeSantis stated at a marketing campaign occasion in Harmony, New Hampshire.

Video from the occasion was posted on social media by Fox Information Digital.

Former President Trump is closely favored each in Iowa, which holds its Republican caucuses on Jan. 15, and New Hampshire, which holds its major every week later. DeSantis, the governor of Florida, has been campaigning relentlessly of late attempting to shut the hole within the closing weeks.

In previous interviews, DeSantis has made clear that he believes Trump legitimately misplaced the 2020 election, one thing that Trump nonetheless publicly disputes. Trump has been charged each in federal court docket in Washington, D.C. and state court docket in Georgia with a number of felonies related to his makes an attempt to undermine the election.

On the New Hampshire occasion on Friday, DeSantis famous that Trump additionally cried fraud when he misplaced the 2016 Iowa caucuses to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and certain will complain if he loses this time round. “I believe that is to be anticipated, however I do not suppose persons are going to purchase it,” he stated.

A spokesperson for the Trump marketing campaign, Steven Cheung, responded to the remarks by charging that DeSantis had “turned to conspiracy theories and Democrat speaking factors.”

DeSantis additionally slammed Trump, who tends to favor massive rallies, for not doing extra small-scale occasions with voters.

“When was the final time he stood on a stage and simply took questions from voters? Has he achieved that at any level throughout this marketing campaign?” DeSantis stated. “How typically has he been keen to go and actually reply the robust questions?”

Current opinion polls have proven DeSantis far behind Trump in Iowa and trailing each Trump and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley in New Hampshire.

The Republican nominee will face President Joe Biden, a Democrat, within the November 2024 basic election.

(Reporting by James Oliphant; Modifying by Rosalba O’Brien)

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