Milwaukee—In an effort to cut into Donald Trump’s massive lead in the Republican primary, eight other candidates took to the debate stage Wednesday but rather than tout their policy visions or contrast themselves with the former president, many admitted that they had also committed a variety serious crimes.
“I just want the American people to know that I’ve been running a Ponzi scheme using money I embezzled from Florida’s pension system,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “And I can’t wait for those jack-booted thugs from Biden’s IN-justice department to indict me.”
“Oh, yeah? Well, I haven’t paid my taxes in years. Years!” former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said. “All because I don’t want Joe Biden getting his hands on my money to do all the illegal things he’s doing.”
Former Vice-President Mike Pence seemed hesitant to admit to wrongdoing but eventually did.
“As a Christian, I find it abhorrent to break the law,” he said, looking out at a muted reaction from the crowd. “But I did take some classified documents with me from the White House. Is that something?”
The audience broke into mild applause. Later, during a commercial break, Pence was caught on a hot mic talking to his advisors.
“Gosh, fellas, I just don’t know if I’m criminal enough to win this nomination,” he said.
Vivek Ramaswamy then claimed to be a serial arsonist.
“I burned down a newsstand so the mainstream media’s lies couldn’t get out. Then I moved onto buildings – like schools where kids were being turned into America-hating perverts – and then a 7/11 because they were out of blue raspberry slushies. That one was an overreaction, and I regret it,” he said. “I also set fire to the Pentagon to protest Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.”
Haley then interjected, “The same building terrorists attacked on 9/11?”
“Or did they?” Ramaswamy said.
And the guy from North Dakota, whose name this reporter can’t remember – Dave something? – started to talk about a bad thing he’d done but nobody was paying attention.
Debate moderator Brett Baier eventually cast doubt on DeSantis’ claims.
“Governor, during the break I called Linda Mullen, the director of the Florida pension system and she assured me that funds are not being embezzled, by you or anyone else. She sent me the cover pages of the last five annual audits that show no impropriety, and a copy of the balance sheet that reveals the pension system is fully funded. How do you respond to that?” Baier said.
“That’s an outrageous accusation, Brett!” he said. “I did take that money, you know, for my Ponzi scheme.”
“Can you elaborate more on that scheme?” Baier asked.
“Of course I can because…I mean, I’m the one running it. From the beginning…just a second (DeSantis pulled out his phone and began typing) A Ponzi scheme is a form of fraud that lures investors and pays profits…”
“Governor, are you reading that off Wikipedia?” Baier said.
DeSantis then flipped over his lectern and stormed off stage.
“It’s a sad day for America when someone would lie about committing a felony just to further their political career,” former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “Also, my name isn’t really Asa Hutchinson, it’s Joseph Terwilliger and I am the Zodiac Killer.”