Former President Donald Trump turned up the heat on his primary rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. On Thursday’s “Greg Kelly Reports” on Newsmax TV, Trump said the governor “loved Dr. Fauci.”
The former president recalled that DeSantis, who is consistently running far behind Trump in second place, declared that Florida should “not do any[thing] if we don’t have the approval of Dr. Fauci.”
DeSantis made his response to pandemic lockdowns and vaccine mandates a central focus of his run for the White House. But Trump, a Florida resident, remembered a much different scenario.
Trump: I will tell you that DeSantis loved Dr. Fauci pic.twitter.com/IdfGIfRpWR
— Acyn (@Acyn) August 25, 2023
The 2024 frontrunner minced no words in describing the dedication DeSantis had for the infectious disease expert. “I will tell you that he loved Dr. Fauci, and I’ll send you some articles tomorrow…that’s all he talked about is Dr. Fauci.”
As for Florida, the narrative his rival portrays of his response to national pressure to lock down his state is a myth, according to Trump.
Declaring “he also locked down his state,” the former president described the situation where beaches and roads were locked down. But DeSantis, Trump charged, is “trying to pretend that none of this stuff happened.”
Trump gave credit to a pair of Republican governors, Henry McMaster of South Carolina and Kristi Noem of South Dakota. He lauded their valiant efforts to keep their states open and allow people and businesses to make their own decisions.
Then he added, “Ron locked down Florida. I was there, and I can tell you.”
Trump called it a “horrible scorecard” before noting that the Sunshine State was third in the nation in deaths. And though he now pretends otherwise, the former president said that DeSantis “had lines for miles of people getting vaccines.”
The night before Trump’s comments on Newsmax TV, DeSantis was engaged in the first GOP presidential debate on Fox News. There he criticized the country’s COVID response under the Trump administration, claiming he would have fired Fauci.
DeSantis asked the national audience, “Why are we in this mess? Part of it and a major reason is because how this federal government handled COVID-19 by locking down this economy.”
He further claimed that Florida remained open despite national lockdowns and said he would never let that happen again as president.