President Joe Biden completely deflected a reporter’s question about Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL)and his handling of the pandemic on Thursday afternoon responding, “Governor who?” after his administration’s spent the entire week in a war of words with the governor.
NBC White House correspondent, Kelly O’Donnell asked Biden about DeSantis’ public commitment to “get in the way” of the federal government’s efforts to reimpose pandemic restrictions.
“Governor who?” Biden asked, “That’s my response.”
The friction between the administration and the Florida GOP governor has grown as the White House doubles down on federal mandates and restrictions concerning the coronavirus, but DeSantis has remained an outspoken critic and refuses to force arbitrary mandates on his constituents.
Biden on Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL): “Governor Who?” pic.twitter.com/dmmTsd2aPx
— The Recount (@therecount) August 5, 2021
Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ press secretary, told Mediaite that Governor DeSantis “said everything he had to say” in a Wednesday press conference in response to the Biden administration’s numerous attacks this week.
“Joe Biden has taken to himself to single out Florida over COVID-19. This is a guy who ran for president saying he was going to ‘shut down the virus’, and what has he done? He’s imported more virus from around the world by having a wide-open southern border. You have hundreds of thousands of people pouring across every month and it’s not just from Mexico…they’re then farming them out all across our communities,” DeSantis hammered the administration for their abysmal response to the border crisis.
DeSantis went after Biden’s mandate that forces children as young as kindergartners to mask up in schools, saying that in Florida, that decision would be left up to parents.
The governor was pointed in taking a hard line against Biden’s vaccine mandates, saying the president “rejects science because he denies that people who recover from COVID have long-lasting immunity.”
“His vision is, just like in New York City, restaurants should ban young kids because they cannot be vaccinated. Law-abiding citizens have to show proof of their medical records to go to the gym or attend an event? He wants that! But if you want to vote, he thinks it’s too much of a burden to show a picture ID,” DeSantis remarked while also criticizing Democrats’ resistance to Voter ID efforts.
The Florida governor contended that the choice is clear between “free society or a bio-medical security state” and Florida will remain a “free state”.
“If you’re coming after the rights of parents in Florida? I’m standing in your way. If you’re trying to deny kids a proper in-person education, I’m gonna stand in your way and stand up for the kids in Florida. If you’re trying to restrict people and impose mandates and ruin their jobs and livelihood, if you are trying to lock people down, I am standing in your way. I am standing for the people of Florida. I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID” from Biden until he gets the border secure,” DeSantis pledged.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki sent out a snarky tweet in response to the Governor’s press conference:
23% of new COVID hospitalizations in the U.S are in Florida, and their hospitals are being overwhelmed again.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) August 4, 2021
Earlier in the week, Psaki got snappy when asked about DeSantis’ stance on a mask mandate:
“If you aren’t going to help, if you aren’t going to abide by public health guidance, then get out of the way and let people do the right thing to lead in their communities whether they are teachers, university leaders, private sector leaders, or others who are trying to save lives,” she responded.
DeSantis signed an order last week that made face masks optional in schools following new CDC guidance that also calls on vaccinated Americans to wear masks indoors in high risk areas.
Notice, however, that the Psaki dodged the governor’s criticisms on the border crisis completely. The federal government has refused to aid states like Texas and Florida which are experiencing real consequences from the surge in migrants at the border.
July border apprehension numbers are expected to eclipse 200,000, reaching a 20 year high while the year-to-date number has risen to over one million. The Biden administration continues to try to address “root causes” while the problem swells and illegal, unvaccinated migrants bring more coronavirus cases over the border.
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