Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took perhaps his first shot at former President Donald Trump over the weekend for effectively making unelected health bureaucrat Dr. Anthony Fauci, the then-director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the most powerful person in the U.S. government.
“A leader must have the confidence to stand all alone if need be,” DeSantis said at the Utah GOP Convention on Saturday. “And so for us, as I got into office, COVID presented that situation for us because we were in a situation – the third-largest state in the country – one of the highest percentage of elderly, economy based on tourism, which we needed to travel to continue.”
“So this situation was an existential threat to our state, but I made the judgment,” DeSantis continued. “Leaders take the bull by the horns and make the decisions for themselves. They don’t subcontract out their leadership to health bureaucrats like Dr. Fauci.”
Ron DeSantis rips Donald Trump:
“Leaders … don’t subcontract out their leadership to health bureaucrats like Dr. Fauci.”
— Giancarlo Sopo (@GiancarloSopo) April 22, 2023
The former president’s 2020 Twitter campaign account repeatedly promoted how much the former president listened to Fauci and never pushed back against anything Fauci suggested.
Dr. Fauci: "The first and only time that Dr. Birx and I went in and formally made a recommendation to the President to" shut down the economy and put in place social distancing to combat the virus, "the President listened to the recommendation" and did it. pic.twitter.com/sn3N8TnNoL
— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) September 9, 2020
President Trump has listened to the experts every single time.
As Dr. Fauci has said, "When I've made recommendations he's taken them. He's never countered or overridden me."pic.twitter.com/MQjNmK5IJd
— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) June 30, 2020
The remarks from DeSantis come as Trump faced backlash from conservatives for using far-left organizations and media to attack DeSantis and the state of Florida.
Trump used data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and the Florida Policy Institute to attack DeSantis for allegedly leading the state “to tumble into complete and total delinquency and destruction.”
“The real DeSantis record is one of misery and despair,” the Trump campaign claimed. “He has left a wake of destruction all across Florida and people are hurting because he has spent more time playing public relations games instead of actually doing the hard-work needed to improve the lives of the people he represents.”
Trump’s remarks come as more Americans have moved to Florida over the last few years — including Trump himself — than any other state in the country in-large part due to the freedoms that were protected in the state during the pandemic.
Fox News reported that the NLIHC is an organization “dedicated to achieving racially and socially equitable public policy,” while the Florida Policy Institute is a left-leaning organization that claims to be non-partisan. Another report said that NLIHC was a “a pro-transgender nonprofit that’s part of a coalition of progressive organizations (Alliance for Justice/AJF) backed by Soros.”