MATTHEWS: On Trump, other GOP candidates and accountability 

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before departure from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

One thing both his critics and defenders would agree on about former President Donald Trump is that he has no problem whatsoever speaking up for himself and bringing the fire to his foes in the media, in politics and beyond. 

So with that in mind, it’s been frustrating to see the other Republican presidential candidates routinely being asked to answer questions regarding his legal woes, which stem from the four indictments the current GOP frontrunner has been hit with over the last five months. 

I get questioning the others on things like, “Would you consider pardoning Trump if you’re elected president?” and “Do you agree with Trump that these indictments constitute election interference?” 

But beyond that, the other GOP candidates have their campaigns to run and shouldn’t be put on the hook for comment every time news breaks about Trump, which these days is pretty often. 

And yet that’s exactly what happened Thursday to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a trip he, his wife and three young children made to Iowa to the iconic site of the famous 1989 film “Field of Dreams.” 

DeSantis, a big baseball fan who was captain of the baseball team during his time at Yale, was asked by a reporter about what they described as the “split screen” of DeSantis and his family having a good time while campaigning in Iowa while Trump was getting booked, complete with a now-viral mugshot, in Georgia on that same day. 

Instead of taking the bait, DeSantis simply responded by saying, “Well, I’m glad I’m at the Field of Dreams. I’m happy to be here.” 

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), also a presidential contender, was more direct in pointing out how persistent questions related to Trump’s most recent indictment are “a tremendous distraction from what the average person and the average household is facing.” 

But it was DeSantis who felt the heat from MAGA Inc. in the aftermath of his response, with some Trump campaign surrogates expressing outrage that DeSantis refused to make Trump’s situation the sole focus of his campaign. 

“Imagine thinking it’s a good idea to go do a family photo op at the ‘Field of Dreams’ on the same day Trump is having his mugshot taken as a symbol of the complete weaponization of the American justice system,” former Trump Deputy Director of National Intelligence Cliff Sims wrote on Twitter. 

“Totally oblivious to the moment & out of touch with the national mood,” Sims also wrote. 

Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. piggybacked off Sims’ post with a similar message. 

“Either [DeSantis] simply doesn’t know what time it is or he’s allowing his establishment never-Trump consultants, who are making millions off of his failing campaign, to control his every move!” Trump Jr. alleged. 

Here’s a thought: Why not let Trump and his Very Online defenders be accountable for what happens to Trump and not every other GOP candidate out there on the campaign trail? After all, Trump doesn’t get questions often about his rivals and their campaign issues precisely because their issues are not his issues. 

The reverse is also true for his Republican opponents. 

Enough already. Trump’s a grown man who has been in this rodeo many times before, and he undoubtedly pays his surrogates, senior staffers, and legal team very well to get whatever the message is on any given day out on his behalf. 

It’s time for the mainstream media and the Trump presidential campaign to stop trying to make every other candidate answerable for his legal issues. 

North Carolina native Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a media analyst and regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.