The Trump campaign is defending itself from one of Ron DeSantis’ attacks concerning Dr. Anthony Fauci by presenting research on the Florida governor’s own history of praising the former White House official, a Trump campaign document released Tuesday showed.
DeSantis has argued Trump’s close relationship with Fauci is a key difference between himself and his 2024 rival. DeSantis has repeatedly said that, unlike Trump, he would have fired the former chief White House medical adviser who “did a lot of damage” and “destroyed millions of people’s lives” during the pandemic. One of his biggest regrets is not speaking “much louder” against the lockdowns imposed by the Trump administration, DeSantis said in January. (RELATED: ‘No Daily Drama’: DeSantis Slams Trump Over Leadership, COVID)
In response to DeSantis’ line of attack, the Trump campaign prepared a research document entitled “Ron DeSantis’ Lying Record on COVID” with a subsection dedicated specifically to Fauci. The document points to two tweets DeSantis made in March 2020, the first month of pandemic lockdowns.
“Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci agree; there is too high a risk that travelers from the NY Tri-State Area have been exposed to #COVID19. I appreciate their support for my executive order requiring such individuals flying into FL to self-quarantine for 14 days,” DeSantis tweeted March 25, 2020.
Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci agree; there is too high a risk that travelers from the NY Tri-State Area have been exposed to #COVID19. I appreciate their support for my executive order requiring such individuals flying into FL to self-quarantine for 14 days.https://t.co/dL3JIQ02DH
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 25, 2020
“Here is a useful overview of what we know regarding #COVID19, courtesy of Doctors Fauci, Lane and Redfield,” a tweet from March 3, 2020, reads with a link to a COVID-19 guide.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 3, 2020
DeSantis’ press secretary Bryan Griffin reiterated that the Florida governor would have fired Fauci.
“Like most Americans, the governor initially assumed medical officials were going to serve the interests of the people and keep politics out of their decisionmaking,” Griffin told the Daily Caller in a statement. “When it became clear that this wasn’t the case, the governor charted his own course and never looked back. Governor DeSantis would’ve fired Anthony Fauci. Now, the former president’s endorsement of Cuomo’s approach to COVID is an indication that he would double down on his support of lockdowns and mandates.”
“No one is buying Trump’s BS. They’re laughing at him,” said Matt Wolking, Strategic Communications Director for DeSantis’ Super PAC, Never Back Down.
Wolking pointed the Caller to a tweet of Iowans laughing at Trump for attacking Trump on COVID.
The room of Iowans laughs at Trump’s praise for Andrew Cuomo and ridiculous attacks against Ron DeSantis on COVID https://t.co/9AKzTG1Tj8
— Matt Wolking (@MattWolking) May 31, 2023
A majority of Independent voters, 58.9%, wanted Fauci to step down from office in January 2022, according to a poll released by Convention of States Action and Trafalgar Group. The Florida governor first made critical tweets about Fauci in June 2021 and condemned him in March 2022 for not acting in accordance with “actual data.”
The two top 2024 GOP presidential contenders have traded frequent blows on COVID-19 in general and will continue to focus on the issue in the campaign, those familiar with the campaigns have told the Caller.
The majority of the Trump campaign document is dedicated to DeSantis’ history with supporting vaccines and lockdowns — a line of attack Trump has used since January. Trump’s central criticisms of DeSantis’ COVID-19 response include the argument that, unlike some Republican states, “Florida was closed for a long period of time” and that the governor “changed his tune a lot” on vaccines, according to CNN. Trump has also pointed to DeSantis shutting down beaches in Broward and Palm Beach counties. (RELATED: Trump’s Line Of Attack On DeSantis Could Backfire In A Major Way)
“President Trump saved millions of lives, opposed mandates, and embraced the Federalist system to allow States to make the decisions best for their people,” the Trump campaign document reads. “Ron DeSantis continues to lie about his record, as he personally oversaw mass vaccinations and imposed radical lockdowns.”
DeSantis has argued his COVID-19 policies in Florida set the state apart from the rest of the country by coming out against school closures as early as July 2020 and reopening businesses.
“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,” DeSantis told radio host Glenn Beck on Thursday, the New York Post reported.
DeSantis, like many other governors, ordered schools to shut down in the early days of the pandemic and prohibited indoor dining. He went further than some of the suggestions from the federal government, including imposing strict travel restrictions for travelers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Louisiana and setting up police checkpoints on highways.