In the ever-volatile political landscape, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida found himself criticizing the approach of Donald Trump, former President and current front-runner in the Republican primary.
On Thursday, Governor DeSantis suggested that Trump’s decision to defer the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic to Dr. Anthony Fauci, previously a longstanding official of the National Institutes of Health and former chief medical adviser to President Biden, resulted in detrimental consequences for millions of American citizens.
Governor DeSantis, during his conversation with radio presenter Glenn Beck, expressed his sentiments, stating, “I think he did great for three years, but when he ‘turned the country over’ to Fauci in March of 2020, that ‘destroyed millions of people’s lives’.” The Governor praised his own state of Florida, which he believes stood resilient amid severe criticism from various quarters. Notwithstanding the substantial opposition, Florida maintained operational schools, supported businesses, and thus, outperformed most states in the wake of COVID-19.
The Governor expounded on Florida’s performance saying, “Florida, since COVID, has outperformed virtually any state in the country, when you look at all these significant metrics, I mean, we’re booming.” He asserted the fact that the state is attracting wealth and people, and established a clear contrast between its performance and that of the rest of the country in the challenging year of 2020.
Wednesday saw the initiation of Governor DeSantis’ presidential campaign with certain technical hitches during a Twitter Spaces conversation with Elon Musk, the renowned billionaire. However, it’s noteworthy that despite these initial difficulties, Trump, aged 76, continues to lead DeSantis in recent primary polls by a significant margin.
The former President has criticized DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic, alleging that he “shut down [the] Sunshine State.” To quote Trump, “Florida was actually closed, for a great, long period of time.” He further suggested that attempts are being made to “rewrite history.”
Initial lockdown measures were enforced by most state governors in March 2020. However, Florida emerged as one of the pioneering states to lift these restrictions and resume business operations. Governor DeSantis has also demonstrated his opposition to mandates surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine.
In his address to the Florida Family Policy Council, he stated, “The way they weaponized these COVID vaccines was a massive incursion into our freedoms.” He strongly objected to the notion of forced vaccination, adding, “We can never allow ‘Warp Speed’ to trump informed consent in this country ever again,” a reference to the previous administration’s name for the vaccine initiative.
Under President Biden, the White House COVID-19 Response Team subsequently assumed the vaccine project, advocating for federal employee vaccination mandates throughout the President’s initial two years of service. However, these mandates were quietly discontinued earlier this month following numerous legal skirmishes with state officials regarding the enforced vaccinations.
Governor DeSantis has been proactive in his opposition to these mandates, having signed a law in November 2021 that prohibited such requirements for state employees, including those working in public schools. Moreover, he has called into question the effectiveness of the vaccines and last year proposed a grand jury investigation into the matter.