Republican presidential candidates are ramping up their attacks over President Joe Biden and his youngest granddaughter, defying an unofficial rule in Washington that lawmakers’ families, especially minors, are off-limits to conflict.
The 4-year-old girl is Hunter Biden’s fourth daughter, his only child with Lunden Roberts of Arkansas. Hunter Biden’s child support case with Roberts garnered attention, and Republican presidential candidates have started targeting the president for not publicly confirming whether he has a relationship with the girl.
For example, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday hit back at Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for their criticism over several policies in Florida, including Harris’ condemnation of Florida officials over educational standards about slavery and American history.
“Maybe if Biden’s granddaughter moved to Florida he’d actually visit her,” DeSantis tweeted.
DeSantis at a recent campaign stop also said “Why don’t you focus on spending more time with your granddaughter in Arkansas, or at least acknowledge she exists?”
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Roberts said in April court filings that Hunter Biden has “never seen or contacted” the child. She also said Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden “remain estranged” from her, CNN reported.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has declined to comment on the president’s relationship with the child. USA TODAY has reached out to the White House for additional information.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley during a campaign event last week was discussing her call for competency tests for politicians, which she said could include asking how many grandchildren a person has, an apparent reference to Biden.
The criticism hasn’t only come from Republican presidential candidates. GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel earlier this month accused Biden of having “no empathy.”
Biden has long touted his close relationship to his grandchildren, including Hunter Biden’s three other daughters and son, as well as the son and daughter of Beau Biden, who died in 2015 from brain cancer.
In April, Biden said he had six grandchildren during remarks to celebrate “Take Your Child to Work Day.” The president said he’s “crazy about them” and he speaks to them every day.
Republicans’ criticism targeting Biden over his youngest granddaughter isn’t the first time lawmakers, commentators and others from either party have broken the unspoken rule that families should be left out of the political arena.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., in 2019, said he apologized to former President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen after tweeting an apparent threat about him, saying “Regardless of disagreements, family members should be off-limits from attacks from representatives, senators & presidents, including myself.”
Contributing: Associated Press