Former President Donald J. Trump’s rivals in the Republican race for president again lined up in his defense on Thursday after Maine barred him from its primary election ballot, the second state to do so.
When the Colorado Supreme Court barred Mr. Trump from the primary ballot there last week, all of Mr. Trump’s opponents also criticized the decision, rather than using it as an avenue of attack.
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Vivek Ramaswamy, the entrepreneur, made much the same arguments on Thursday night.
“It opens up Pandora’s box,” Mr. DeSantis said on Fox News after the Maine decision was announced. “Can you have a Republican secretary of state disqualify Biden from the ballot?”
Mr. DeSantis had previously suggested that the ruling in Colorado had been part of a plot to solidify Republican support behind Mr. Trump in the primary. He had also said that Mr. Trump’s criminal indictments had “sucked all the oxygen” out of the race.
Mr. Ramaswamy, the candidate who ostensibly is running against Mr. Trump but has most enthusiastically defended the former president, again said he would withdraw from the primary in any state where Mr. Trump was not on the ballot. He also called on the G.O.P. field — Mr. DeSantis, former Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey — to make a similar pledge.
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