DeSantis: Wish I'd Been 'Much Louder' Against Trump's COVID Move

Fla. governor says he wishes he'd spoken up to protest shutdowns in early pandemic
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2022 9:00 AM CST
DeSantis Jabs at Trump's COVID Move, Slams SCOTUS Justices
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is seen during a legislative session on Tuesday in Tallahassee, Fla.   (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

(Newser) – Things have started to get tense between Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump, starting when the former president appeared to call the Florida governor "gutless" this week for not admitting whether or not he'd received the COVID booster shot. Now, DeSantis is firing back, second-guessing how Trump handled things during the early days of the pandemic. In his appearance Friday on the conservative podcast Ruthless, which was recorded on Thursday, DeSantis said he was surprised in March 2020 when Trump told Americans to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. DeSantis also now says he should've been "much louder" in protesting against the president's move.

"I never thought in February, early March, that [coronavirus] would lead to locking down the country," DeSantis said. "I just didn't. I didn't think that was on the radar." He noted that he'd been one of Trump's advisers during those early days, and that he put the blame for the shutdowns on "people like" Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was on Trump's coronavirus response team led by then-VP Mike Pence. CNN notes that, despite his apparent reservations, DeSantis "ultimately followed the White House lead," advised Floridians to stay home, and shut down his own state's schools, gyms, bars, and restaurants.

Trump wasn't the only one DeSantis took issue with during his podcast appearance. Per Fox News, the governor also took aim at two Supreme Court justices, Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts, for siding with liberal justices this week in allowing the Biden administration's COVID vaccine mandate for health care workers. "Honestly, Roberts and Kavanaugh did not have a backbone on that decision," DeSantis said. "That's just the bottom line." DeSantis promised to enforce protections in place in his state for nurses affected by the mandate. (Read more Ron DeSantis stories.)

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