2024 Candidate Interacts With Hunter Biden Special Adviser And More Takeaways
As Republicans gathered on Friday for the second day of the Iowa state fair, news broke in Washington that the US attorney general investigating Hunter Biden had been elevated to special counsel.
Many candidates in the 2024 GOP field have welcomed the development, with former Vice President Mike Pence telling reporters that the time has come. Others said they still do not believe the investigation will be independent.
Meanwhile, Governor Ron DeSantis faced an unfriendly reception on his first stop of the day, when cowbell-wielding protesters interrupted the event.
And in West Virginia, Sen. Joe Manchin is once again flirting with the idea of leaving the Democratic Party.
Here’s what to know from the track on Friday.
2024 Candidates Interact with Hunter Biden Special Adviser
Pence was among the first candidates to respond to Attorney General Merrick Garland’s announcement that US Attorney General David Weiss has been appointed as special counsel in his investigation of President Joe Biden’s son.
“I’ll be honest with you, I can’t speak for what his son was doing when he was vice president,” Pence told ABC News congressional reporter Rachel Scott. “When I was vice president, my son was flying a Marine Corps F-35 to defend this country.”
Pence continued, “But I think it’s time we saw a special counsel appointed to get access to not only what Hunter Biden was doing, but what the Biden family was doing. The American people deserve answers and I welcome that.”
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said he wasn’t surprised.
“Well, I’m not shocked. I’m not shocked about it at all,” Suarez said. “I think there is a perception among Republicans that I spoke to that there is a two-tier system [of justice]. So I think he would be welcome.”
But other candidates were skeptical and continued to suggest that the Justice Department had been politically weaponized.
Former President Donald Trump was not in Iowa, but a spokesperson for his campaign claimed that if the special counsel were “truly independent,” he would “quickly conclude” that Biden and the others should face “the required consequences.”
Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley told Fox News that she did not “trust” the appointment of the special counsel.
“I don’t trust her. I don’t think the American people trust her. I don’t think the American people trust the Justice Department,” Haley said.
DeSantis told reporters he was not “confident” that the investigation would include corruption cases alleged by many in the Republican Party.
“It looks to me like they’ll find a way to give him some kind of soft glove treatment,” he said.
Democrat Marianne Williamson, who previously refused to make Hunter Biden a campaign issue, said in a statement that “it is up to the American people to decide how this complication affects their view of President Biden’s candidacy and whether it is another reason to move forward.” “
Protesters drowned DeSantis
Two women interrupt the ringing of cowbells and shouting through DeSantis’ megaphone as he campaigns at Freedom Rock, a memorial honoring veterans in Menlo, Iowa
The two women, Heather and Kara Ryan, tried to drown out DeSantis with chants like “Ron De-Fascist” and “Go Back to Florida.” Done in “B****** Get Stuff Done” T-shirts, Heather Ryan told ABC News afterward that she belongs to a progressive group in Iowa of the same name.
In a particularly tense moment, a member of DeSantis’ superstar team hit Heather Ryan’s megaphone as he screamed.
DeSantis criticized the women in his comments, saying they had no “respect for veterans.”
ABC News’ Hannah Demicy, Will McDuffie, and Isabella Murray
Doug Burgum says the RNC rules should apply to Trump, too
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum resisted debating Trump during his campaign. But he made an exception on Friday to disagree with the Republican National Committee, which is likely to offer Trump a concession to the debate stage if he does not sign the Pledge of Allegiance.
“These are all club rules. If they are club rules, they should apply to everyone,” Burgum told reporters.
The Pledge of Allegiance is a requirement to reach the debate stage at the RNC later this month. Trump said earlier this week that he would not sign it, and hinted he might skip the first two debates.
Kelsey Walsh on ABC News
Pence faces his supporters and opponents on January 6th
Pence has received mixed reactions in Iowa, with some calling him a “traitor” and others praising him for his actions on January 6, 2021.
During his turn at the soap box Thursday, an audience member asked Pence why he committed the betrayal on Jan. 6 — a question that caused someone else in the crowd to yell, “Shut up.”
But Pence said it was a fair question and defended his actions that day.
“I will always believe in God’s grace,” Pence said, “I did my homework that day. I really believe that.”
Asked by ABC News on Friday whether the backlash represented a GOP party at a crossroads, Pence said he honestly didn’t know.
“I am deeply touched by the people who have expressed their appreciation for my conservative career so long ago and the stance I took on that fateful day,” he said. “I understand that after two and a half years of my ex telling people things that I’m not, I welcome the opportunity… I’ve kept an oath to the United States I’m sure that in due course, people who didn’t understand it then, and probably don’t now They will come and understand that we have always kept our promises to the American people.”
Rachael Scott, Libby Cathy, and Ben Siegel on ABC News
Manchin is “seriously” considering becoming a freelancer
The moderate Democrat said he “definitely” considered becoming an independent during a radio interview with West Virginia-based “Talkline” radio host Hobby Kercheval.
“I’m seriously thinking about what’s best for me,” Manchin said. “I gotta have peace of mind, basically. Brand got really bad. Brand ‘D’ and brand ‘R’… You’ve heard me say a million times that I’m not a Democrat in Washington. But I have a lot of friends who aren’t Republicans in Washington either.” “.
Manchin is up for re-election next year in the increasingly conservative state. If he switch parties, he will follow in the footsteps of Arizona Sen. Kirsten Sinema, who switched her registration from a Democrat to an independent late last year.
“When I’m ready to make a decision, I’ll come and see you,” Manchin told Kercheval.
Kelsey Walsh on ABC News
This article originally appeared on abcnews.go.com