Florida Governor Ron DeSantis responded Thursday to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s claim that he had advocated burning the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “to the ground,” and he didn’t back down an inch.
DeSantis, who officially announced his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday, made it clear that complete destruction of those particular institutions might be going too easy on them.
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) May 25, 2023
“There was a report that — I had spoken with Bobby Kennedy Jr., and he had said that ‘the governor said that you know, that we need to burn to the ground the CDC’ and all these things,” DeSantis began.
“And I just want to be very clear, full disclosure,” DeSantis continued. “I was not that kind to CDC and NIH and any of those [agencies]. Just for the record, just so your viewers don’t think I’m going soft, but I can’t think of a more catastrophic response than how this country responded to COVID, particularly at the federal level.”
DeSantis went on to call out the CDC directly, along with former Coronavirus Task Force leader Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the FDA.
“And nothing has been done about it, to hold any of those folks accountable,” he said.
DeSantis, a longtime critic of Fauci in particular, also took a swipe at former President Donald Trump and argued that by putting Fauci in charge, Trump bore some responsibility for the U.S. response to the pandemic.
DeSantis on Trump Covid response:
"When he turned the country over to Fauci… that destroyed millions of people's lives.” pic.twitter.com/wZipXzhJh9
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) May 25, 2023
“When he turned the country over to Fauci in March of 2020, that destroyed millions of people’s lives,” DeSantis said of Trump, saying that up to that point, he believed the former president had done a good job with regard to policy.
Once Fauci was allowed to influence policies such as shutting down schools and businesses, however, DeSantis argued that Florida had essentially stood alone in its efforts to keep things open.
“Florida, since COVID, has out-performed virtually any state in the country,” he said.