Trump’s GOP rivals don’t pounce on his mug shot, and more campaign trail takeaways

The first Republican primary debate and a mug shot for the history books.

It was a split-screen week for the GOP as eight presidential hopefuls gathered in Milwaukee on Wednesday night to spar on Ukraine, abortion and other issues.

Absent from the stage but not the public eye was former President Donald Trump, who surrendered Thursday at the Fulton County jail in the Georgia election case. For the first time in his four indictments, Trump had his mug shot taken.

Former President Donald Trump steps off his plane as he arrives at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Aug. 24, 2023, in Atlanta.Alex Brandon/AP

Now, some of his Republican rivals are being asked to weigh in on the image. And some congressional allies are posting their own versions in solidarity.

MORE: Donald Trump's campaign using mug shot in fundraising push

President Joe Biden's team, meanwhile, released a new ad hitting the GOP field over their views on abortion.

And the Republican National Committee is already looking ahead to 2028.

Here's what to know from the campaign trail on Friday, Aug. 25.

Trump's GOP rivals aren't pouncing on his surrender

Trump is the first president to ever have their mug shot taken. His Republican rivals for the 2024 nomination, though, aren't hitting him too hard on the matter.

Reaction started to trickle in on Friday as candidates were asked to respond to the image.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, while campaigning in New Hampshire, punted and said, "It' a tremendous distraction from what the average person and the average household is facing."

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, during an appearance on Fox & Friends early Friday morning, appeared the most uneasy by the development, but said no one should presume Trump is guilty.

"To me, I think it's a sad day for America. I think it's disgraceful. I mean, the idea that we're seeing a mug shot of a 77-year-old former president — I mean, how did we get to this point? And I don't know that anyone in America should look at that and feel good about it," she said before quickly pivoting to discussing inflation.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, seen as Trump's closest rival, has also been reluctant to bad-mouth the former president.

Stumping in Iowa on Thursday as Trump was surrendering, DeSantis was pressed by ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott to weigh in on the matter.

"Here's the thing, so candidates got to decide how much are they going to indulge with some of this. So you can ask me to parse Jan. 6, 2021. And then me as a candidate, I have the choice to either parse it for you or to tell you I'm focused on Jan. 20, 2025," he said.

Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis talks with local players during a campaign stop at the Field of Dreams movie site, Aug. 24, 2023, in Dyersville, Iowa.Charlie Neibergall/AP

"So if Republicans let it overwhelm, then it will. But we don't have to let it overwhelm. We can focus on talking about people's future and focus squarely on that," DeSantis added.

Vivek Ramaswamy, who has said he would pardon Trump if elected, called the media coverage surrounding the former president's surrender "shameful," on Fox News' "The Ingraham Angle" on Thursday evening.

"This is an indictment not of Donald Trump but of our national civic health," Ramaswamy said.

Some Trump allies share photoshopped mug shots

Georgia lawmakers Marjorie Taylor Greene and Mike Collins shared their own photoshopped mug shots in solidarity with Trump.

"I stand with President Trump against the commie DA Fani Willis who is nothing more than a political hitman tasked with taking out Biden's top political opponent," Greene wrote in sharing the image on X, with the hashtag #MAGAMugShot.

Biden's team releases ad hitting GOP over abortion

The Biden campaign is out with a new digital ad hitting the Republican field for their positions on abortion, saying they are "the last people who should be involved" in what they say is one of "the most personal" decisions a woman can make.

The ad specifically singles out Trump, DeSantis and Scott — referring to them as "These Guys."

MORE: Anti-abortion group praises some candidates, criticizes others for GOP debate answers

President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference on the sidelines of the G20 summit meeting, Nov. 14, 2022, in Bali, Indonesia.Alex Brandon/AP, FILE

Separately, the political arm of the National Organization for Women endorsed Biden on Friday just minutes before his primary challengers, Marianne Williamson, delivered the keynote at the Georgia chapter's state conference.

"Women are not going to let the extremists continue on their path of destruction to tear our lives apart," the group's president, Christian F. Nunes, said in a statement.

Scott has tense exchange with voter over Trump

Scott, who has centered his campaign on optimism rather than criticism, was confronted by a voter in New Hampshire on his approach to Trump.

"If you don't stand up to Trump, how are you going to stand up to the president of Russia and China?" David Coffey, a 79-year-old independent who said he supports Chris Christie, asked Scott.

Republican presidential candidate Senator Tim Scott walks in the rain outside Robie’s Country Store in Hooksett, New Hampshire, Aug. 25, 2023.Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters

The two went back and forth on the issue, with Scott saying they were in disagreement "with the foundation of the question."

"Do you want to have a conversation, or do you want to monologue?" Scott said at one point. "I'm happy to listen, but if you want to have a dialogue, then I'll be speaking as well."

Houston to host 2028 RNC convention

With still a year left to go before the RNC's 2024 convention in Milwaukee, the party announced Friday the host city for its convention in 2028: Houston, Texas.

"I will say the RNC was blown away when we came to Houston. We were blown away from start to finish. It was one of the best bids I have ever seen of any city for any convention, and I have no doubt that they will put together one of the best conventions that the entire country has ever seen in 2028," RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said.

McDaniel also noted that the RNC's selection of Houston was, in part, due to Republicans' emphasis mobilizing Hispanic voters and electing Hispanic representatives in recent cycles.

Houston's Democratic Mayor Sylvester Turner even helped in working to secure the location.

"As the nation's most diverse and inclusive city, we believe Houston represents the future of the United States and our aspirations as a country. We're excited to showcase that identity and Houston's unsurpassed hospitality. We thank the RNC for selecting Houston to host the 2028 Republican National Convention," Turner said in an RNC news release.


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