If there was any doubt that Ron Desantis would take it to Donald Trump after the Florida governor made his 2024 presidential run official on Wednesday, that doubt vanished on Thursday as DeSantis blasted the former president for turning the country over to discredited Dr. Anthony Fauci during the COVID pandemic.
Now that DeSantis has taken the gloves off, one thing seems clear: The popular Florida governor will take it to Trump with facts, while Trump continues his silly sophomoric game of personal attacks.
In an interview with radio host Glenn Beck, DeSantis praised Trump’s first three years in office before going bottom line:
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. And in Florida, we were one of the few that stood up, cut against the grain, took incoming fire from media, bureaucracy, the left — even a lot of Republicans — had schools open, preserved businesses.
As he’s done for months, DeSantis continued to contrast his results in Florida with other states:
And so Florida, since COVID, has outperformed virtually any state in the country, when you look at all these significant metrics, I mean, we’re booming. We’ve got people moving in here. Wealth is coming in here.
And so I think when people look back — that 2020 year was not a good year for the country as a whole. It was a situation where Florida started to stand alone. So I think that that’s important contrast.
So how will Trump respond? Because, you know, Trump responds. More precisely, Trump attacks.
Given Trump’s M.O., it’s hard to see him responding to fact-driven criticism from DeSantis — or anyone else — with facts, so it’s my opinion that the former president will only continue to “up” his game, with ever more bizarre comments on Truth Social.
One need look no further than Trump’s irrationally nonsensical Truth Social comment after DeSantis made his presidential campaign official, to see the former president’s state of mind:
‘Rob,’ My Red Button is bigger, better, stronger, and is working (TRUTH!), yours does not! (per my conversation with Kim Jung Un, of North Korea, soon to become my friend!)
Incidentally, it amuses me how Trump loyalists still refer to the former president as “President Trump,” “My President Trump,” and similar misnomers, but I digress.
🇺🇸A Message from The President Of America🇺🇸
Rob,” My Red Button is bigger, better, stronger, and is working (TRUTH!), yours does not! (per my conversation with Kim Jung Un, of North Korea, soon to become my friend!). pic.twitter.com/LtX9pYGpH5
— GH17TAFKAG (@GH17TAFKAG) May 24, 2023
Matthew Brodsky, a political strategist and senior fellow at the Gold Institute for International Strategy, tweeted, in response to Trump’s post: “Bonkers.”
In February, as reported by the New York Post, Trump went after DeSantis for his handling of the pandemic, claiming the governor actually “shut down [the] Sunshine State” — for “a great, long period of time.”
Florida was actually closed, for a great, long period of time. Remember, he closed the beaches and everything else? They’re trying to rewrite history.
As an aside, I suggest that Donald Trump avoid accusing Ron DeSantis of “trying to rewrite history.” I could provide several examples of why, but let’s not open that can of worms, here.
Anyway, let’s get after that “great, long period of time” claim by Trump. Here was the reality on April 1, 2020 (emphasis, mine):
Florida has now joined the list of states that are ordering residents to remain in their homes for all but essential activities to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made the announcement at an afternoon briefing.
It was just a few hours after he spoke to President Trump. DeSantis said he’s issuing an executive order that will direct “all Floridians to limit movements and personal interactions outside the home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or essential activities.”
With this order, Florida is joining more than 30 other states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico in ordering a lockdown. In total, the orders affect more than 85% of the U.S. population. DeSantis said the order will go into effect in Florida on Thursday at midnight.
Until now, Florida remained the holdout among states hit hard by the coronavirus in not ordering residents to stay at home. A number of cities and counties in the state previously issued stay-at-home orders for residents, including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, which have over 60% of the state’s COVID-19 cases. DeSantis had defended his stance, saying that Florida is a large state where more than a dozen counties still have few, if any, cases.
DeSantis said he reevaluated his position after Trump ordered a 30-day extension of the White House’s social distancing guidelines. At a briefing at the state Capitol, DeSantis said, “This is another 30-day period. At this point, even though there are a lot of places in Florida with very low infection rates, it makes sense to make this move now.”
Oopsie, Donald. Tell us more about “rewriting history,” please.
As for DeSantis’ claim that Trump turned the country over to now-thoroughly discredited Dr. Fauci, remember all of those White House briefings with Trump silently standing in the background while the COVID Gnome™ did his damnedest to scare the bejesus out of the country, week after week, month after month? Me, too. Here are just a few blurbs in response to Trump’s handling of the pandemic:
According to an early 2021 Lancet Commission tasked with assessing Trump’s COVID record:
The US could have averted 40% of the deaths from Covid-19, had the country’s death rates corresponded with the rates in other high-income G7 countries.
Almost 470,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus so far [as of April 1, 2020], with the number widely expected to go above half a million in the next few weeks. At the same time some 27 million people in the US have been infected. Both figures are by far the highest in the world.
In seeking to respond to the pandemic, Trump has been widely condemned for not taking the pandemic seriously enough soon enough, spreading conspiracy theories … and undermining scientists and others seeking to combat the virus’s spread.
Dr. Mary T Bassett, a commission member and director of Harvard University’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, told the Guardian:
The US has fared so badly with this pandemic, but the bungling can’t be attributed only to Mr Trump; it also has to do with these societal failures … That’s not going to be solved by a vaccine.
Please, do not miss my point. As we all know, facts can be selectively used to make a point or support a narrative, but the salient point here is that Donald Trump was and remains hardly in a position to call out DeSantis for his handling of the pandemic — with silly hyperbole that just isn’t true, to boot.
I could continue, of course, but I think I’ll wrap this up — for now, that is.
The Bottom Line
As if further proof was necessary, the purpose of this article is to point out major differences between the former president and the governor of Florida in their campaign styles.
While we can’t predict the future, we can look to the past of both guys. The fact-based points DeSantis scores, the more personal attacks Trump will launch.
If sanity and common sense prevail in the 2024 Republican presidential primaries, Ron DeSantis will win the nomination. And if not? I’d rather not think about those consequences, right now.