Governor of Florida Ron DeSantisRon DeSantis ’60 Minutes ‘Defends Segment on Florida Vaccine Launch Amid Criticism DeSantis Criticizes’ Defamatory Traders ‘in Media After ’60 Minutes’ Segment vaccines’ MORE is bolstering his position as a possible leading Republican presidential candidate in 2024 amid a high-profile battle with CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
The magazine received widespread backlash from Republicans and some Democrats after it ran an article Sunday alleging that DeSantis funneled COVID-19 vaccines to wealthy Florida communities and privatized the vaccine launch to benefit donors.
DeSantis vehemently denied any wrongdoing in the vaccine launch, calling the claim “a false narrative,” but insiders are enjoying the fight with “60 Minutes,” which has long been a target of the right wing. They say the fallout from the report will likely help bolster the governor’s profile, as he is increasingly seen as an apparent heir to the former President TrumpDonald TrumpYelp Creates Tool to Help Support Asian-Owned Businesses Ship Linked to Iran’s Espionage Attacked at Sea Biden Exceeds Vaccine Expectations – So Far MORE.
“He’s getting immense political capital because he was the target of successful journalism work,” said former Trump administration official Alexei Woltornist. “Not only did he catch them, he exposed them.”
DeSantis doubled down on his criticism of the article at a press conference Tuesday, calling the segment “horse manure.”
“I know the corporate media thinks they can just run people over; you’re not running over this governor. I’m responding, ”DeSantis said.
The governor also made rounds on conservative TV shows, including “Tucker carlsonTucker Carlson Piers Morgan Takes Tucker Carlson To Argue About Meghan Republicans Quietly Say Gaetz’s Days In Congress Are Numbered Gaetz Says He Will Not Resign ANY MORE Tonight ”and“ Fox & Friends ”, to ruin the report. That provides an opportunity for DeSantis to reach out to conservatives and build its brand.
“It certainly has given him yet another reason to appear before a national audience that leans toward conservatives,” said Florida-based Republican consultant Shawn Frost.
DeSantis has been a controversial figure throughout his tenure as governor, as his fortunes have risen and fallen with the pandemic.
Polls show the governor’s approval rating has risen in recent weeks. A Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy poll released last month found that the governor had an approval rating of 53 percent, up from his approval rating of 45 percent in July.
DeSantis has presented a fierce and confrontational personality with his critics and certain members of the media as he confronts critics of his administration of the state during the pandemic. The style appears to reflect the unfettered approach Trump took with the media during his presidency.
“If there’s one thing Trump taught us, it’s that culture wars and fights with the media are winning fights for Republicans,” Woltornist said.
One of the most notable examples of this occurred in February when the governor threatened to divert vaccines from Manatee County after being questioned about criticism of the vaccine distribution process in some parts of the state.
“I mean, if Manatee County doesn’t like us doing this, then we are totally okay with putting this in the counties that want it,” DeSantis said at a news conference.
DeSantis’ response to the pandemic and his approach to the media has only made him want for Trump’s base, who could consider him the Republican standard bearer in 2024, if Trump does not run.
“He’s a serious contender,” said Nelson Diaz, former chairman of the Miami-Dade Republican Party. “His approach has proven correct. We didn’t have to destroy people’s lives and shut down the economy to stop the spread, and I think it’s terrifying for Democrats that he was right. “
The “60 Minutes” report focused on the distribution process in Palm Beach County, painting a picture of a “free for all” in the area, with wealthier areas, such as the city of Palm Beach, gaining more access. to the vaccine than less prosperous areas, like West Palm Beach.
Arguably the biggest takeaway in history was the allegation that DeSantis awarded a contract to distribute coronavirus vaccines to the popular Florida-based Publix grocery chain after the corporation made a $ 100,000 donation to its marketing committee. political action.
Media critics were quick to point out Publix’s strong presence in 817 stores in the Sunshine State, saying the move would have been a no-brainer for any administration wanting to distribute the vaccine.
“I think attacking Publix is the biggest mistake they can make in Florida,” Frost said. “It’s the fourth state here, honestly.”
Critics of the Publix partnership say the chain’s stores tend to be located in or closer to middle- and upper-class communities, making it difficult for members of low-income communities to get their chance at a Publix location.
Some Democrats came out in defense of DeSantis after the report. Florida Emergency Management Division chief Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat, tweeted Sunday that the governor’s office did not suggest Publix as a vaccine distribution site.
“Publix was recommended by [Florida Division of Emergency Management] and [Florida Department of Health] since the other pharmacies weren’t ready to go. Period! Complete stop! No one from the governor’s office suggested Publix. It’s just silly, ”Moskowitz said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, Palm Beach County Democratic Mayor Dave Kerner said in a statement that it was the county that requested that the state’s partnership with Publix be expanded.
“We also discussed our own local plans to expand mass vaccination centers across the county, which the governor has been incredibly supportive of. We asked and he delivered. They had that information and they omitted it because it reflects their narrative, ”Kerner said.
DeSantis has found himself in a defensive position at various points in the pandemic.
The governor received a backlash at the beginning of the public health crisis last year for waiting weeks to issue a stay-at-home order despite facing pressure from state and federal officials. He also received criticism for moving to reopen Florida despite an increase in coronavirus cases.
More recently, DeSantis has been accused of favoring the wealthiest communities, which tend to be whiter, in the state as part of the vaccine distribution process. White House Press Secretary Jen psakiJen PsakiBiden Exceeds Vaccine Expectations – So Far Overnight Energy: Progressives Fear Infrastructure Climate Plans Will Not Survive Senate | EPA to Propose Vehicle Emission Standards at the End of July | Poll Shows Growing Partisan Divide On Climate Change Psaki Refutes Fox Reporter’s Claim About ‘Very Similar’ Colorado And Georgia Laws MORE said Monday that the administration would monitor the situation in Florida, and said it found that while African Americans make up 17 percent of the state’s population, only 7 percent have been vaccinated.
Some observers noted the irony that the “60 Minutes” report on DeSantis’ partnership with Publix had overshadowed the inequity in the vaccine implementation process.
“I think there was a watchdog to play with here, but that was just the fairness of the vaccine distribution, and they mentioned it a bit in this story, but that doesn’t seem to be the core of the story.” “Said Aubrey Jewett, professor of political science at the University of Central Florida. “It also didn’t seem to be obviously what was getting all the attention here afterward.”