WASHINGTON — As part of his re-election speech, Donald Trump has repeatedly touted his record of appointing conservative judges and, by extension, his role in helping to overturn Roe v. Wade.

But the GOP frontrunner is facing increasing pressure from his right flank as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tries to make the case that he would pick even more conservative judges. Asked last week by radio host Hugh Hewitt if he would promise Republican primary voters that their justices would be like the three conservatives Trump nominated to the Supreme Court, DeSantis replied: «Well, actually, I’d say we will.» better than that.»

“I respect the three designated [Trump] He did it,» the Florida governor said. «But none of those three are at the same level of Justice [Clarence] Thomas and justice [Samuel] Alito,» calling them «the gold standard» of conservative courtroom values ​​and the types of judges he would seek to place on the high court, if elected.

DeSantis spoke again about his pressure on judges Friday here at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference.

“Florida now has the most conservative Supreme Court anywhere in these United States,” he said. “And we have more work to do. As President, I will nominate and appoint Justices to the Supreme Court modeled on Justices Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito.»

Trump’s three nominees, Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, won a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court that has led to a series of conservative legal victories, including the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which protected the constitutional right to abortion. – as well as the expansion of gun rights.

But on occasion, some of those judges have helped the liberal bloc with a few victories.

GorsuchWidely regarded as a staunch conservative, however, he has at times spoken out about injustices towards Native Americans and detainees at Guantanamo Bay in a way that seems to echo «woke» historians.

Kavanaugh recently helped Democrats with an upset victory by reaffirming the Voting Rights Act, joining liberal justices and Chief Justice John Roberts in striking down Republican-choice constituencies in Alabama that campaigners say civil rights, discriminated against black voters.

«Ron DeSantis must have lost his mind or been convinced by his swampy advisers to attack President Trump’s judges who struck down Roe v Wade,» Trump spokesman Steve Cheung said. «This is what happens when a floundering candidate drops like a rock in the polls and is desperate to stay relevant.»

DeSantis’ message about picking «better» judges is dividing some of the Christian conservatives here at this year’s Faith and Liberty Coalition conference, which is a rite of passage for Republican hopefuls.

Conference attendee Mark Hubbard, a Baptist Christian who lives in Marietta, Georgia, said DeSantis was among the candidates he was considering voting for next year but hadn’t made up his mind. While he said DeSantis had not yet «fully resonated» with him, Hubbard thought the Florida governor would pick more conservative Supreme Court justices than Trump.

“I think he’s done a great job for the state of Florida,” Hubbard said.

Still, other religious voters are skeptical that anyone can outdo Trump when it comes to picking sufficiently conservative judges.

“I think it’s clear to a pastor like me that President Trump could not have done a better job,” said Marc Little, executive director of CURE America Action, a group that advocates for conservative “Christian-based, Capitalism and the Constitution. «With President Trump, I liked where the ball landed. I didn’t necessarily like the way the stick was spinning.»

Timothy Head, executive director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, said the candidates are now trying to differentiate themselves.

“It is the nature of the primaries that there are shades of gray,” he said. “To find a slightly lighter and slightly darker shade of that gray.”

Michael Demastus, an influential pastor at the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, sees it as a two-man race, at least for a while, between Trump and DeSantis.

“Without the evangelical vote, it doesn’t happen, period,” Demastus said in an earlier interview in Iowa. “The evangelical vote is the way.”

Pointing to DeSantis’ ongoing dispute with Disney, after the entertainment giant opposed Florida’s parental rights in education law, which critics dubbed the «Don’t Say Gay» law, Demastus said the Florida’s governor «is framing the problem for evangelicals in the right way.» We don’t see this as a battle between DeSantis and Disney. It is a battle for the children. It is a battle to protect children from an ideology.”

And while Trump can (and has) boasted that the Supreme Court justices he nominated are responsible for Roe’s downfall, some on the right chafed that the former president called the six-week abortion ban DeSantis signed in Florida «too harsh.» Politically, Trump may have been reading the polls, which show the Republican Party is out of step with most Americans on the issue of abortion access, with some Republican strategists admitting the issue could lose in the general election. But with the primary first, it’s a comment that DeSantis himself also seized on.

When recently asked by the Christian Broadcasting Network if he thought Trump had gone «soft» on abortion, DeSantis replied, «I think so.»

“Donald Trump, lately, has been a bit confusing for some evangelical voters, including myself,” said Demastus, who has yet to endorse this cycle. “He was the most pro-life president in American history. Why isn’t he wearing the cape?