9/11 a GOP wedge issue
DeSantis hosts families at BBQ; Saudi-backed tourney at Trump course
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is teeing up former President Donald Trump over golf.
DeSantis hosted 9/11 Families over the Memorial Day weekend just as Trump National in Washington, D.C., was the site of the Saudi-backed LIV golf tournament.
“The juxtaposition is stark,” said Brett Eagleson, who was 15 years old when his dad, Bruce, died while working at the Twin Towers on 9/11. “I don’t know if DeSantis will beat Trump, but the fact is he wants to talk to us about the Saudis.”
Eagleson said he attended a barbecue in Florida hosted by DeSantis who told 9/11 loved ones he understands their “frustration” over the full story of the terror attacks being suppressed by the U.S. government.
The Herald has reached out to the Trump campaign seeking comment, with one regional adviser saying they were more focused on the New Hampshire primary.
Trump is destroying DeSantis in Republican presidential primary polls — 53.2% to 22.4%, according to a Real Clear Politics national average. Nikki Haley is far back at 4.4% among likely GOP voters; Vivek Ramaswamy, the other declared rival, sits at 2.6%.
But Eagleson said many Republicans still want justice when it comes to the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Flight 93 heroes who took on the hijackers crashing into a field in Pennsylvania likely saving lives in the Capitol.
“People are finally paying attention and we’re seeing Republicans willing to walk away from Trump on the Saudi 9/11 issue,” Eagleson added.
Eagleson is part of the 9/11 Families United group suing Saudi Arabia in a Manhattan federal court for alleged ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks — a murderous strike partly launched from Logan Airport
American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 — both out of Boston — slammed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan 18 minutes apart beginning at 8:45 a.m. on 9/11.
Of all the 19 hijackers, 15 of them were citizens of Saudi Arabia. They were all affiliated with al-Qaeda and hijacked four jets, killing nearly 3,000 people.
Eagleson has said the legal battle is not “moving as fast as we all want it to,” but he added it will “succeed someday.”
Terry Strada with 9/11 Families United, whose husband Tom died in the World Trade Center’s North Tower, pointed out Trump’s golf club is just 30 miles from the Pentagon where 184 lives were lost on 9/11.
She also called out the American golfers participating in the tournament.
“What do they tell their children on September 11th? That we worked for the regime that killed these people? It’s just so awful,” Strada said in an email.
No public trial over the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has ever been held — though many fought for one — and the “last best hope” is playing out in federal court in Manhattan now.
The 9/11 families want to expose how the hijackers reportedly received financial help. They are suing Saudi Arabia to force some type of admission.
Eagleson said DeSantis “made no promises — he can’t yet. But he seemed genuine.”
The entire 9/11 group — 1,600 strong — includes many families from New England.
President Biden has signed an executive order to declassify 9/11 evidence.
It now appears DeSantis is seizing on a potential wedge issue to use as a debate zinger when he faces Trump, if and when they do debate.
Only the harshly criticized CNN town hall with just Trump has been held.
As for LIV Golf, Harold Varner III won the event Sunday by one shot over Branden Grace of South Africa.