Attendees at the recent Florida Freedom Summit were none too happy with former President Donald Trump, who didn’t include their state as among those that he believes handled the COVID-19 pandemic well.
It’s not a surprise that Trump left Florida off his list of states that did well during the pandemic, considering it is led by Governor Ron DeSantis, who is his top competitor in the race for the GOP presidential nomination. Even so, people in attendance at the summit were quick to note that Trump should’ve made a nod to their state.
Trump, who is the far-and-away frontrunner in the GOP primary campaign, said that his administration hasn’t gotten enough credit for the “great job on COVID” that it did. Then, he listed some GOP governors who he “let” keep their states open.
The audience at first applauded Trump as he listed off some of those states:
“Henry McMaster, South Carolina, did a great job. South Dakota did a great job. Tennessee did a great job, a lot of them. They kept them open.”
Boos started to come from the crowd, though, as Trump conspicuously didn’t mention Florida among that list. The crowd began to chant “Florida!” which caused Trump to smirk.
Then, after several moments of this, he finally said:
“I will say this, every Republican governor did much better than the best Democrat governor, it’s true.”
Trump certainly didn’t seem like he was interested in conceding that DeSantis did a good job of managing the pandemic. At one point recently, he even said that DeSantis managed it worse than Andrew Cuomo, the former disgraced Democratic governor of New York.
Even though Trump wouldn’t admit as much during the rally, The Associated Press reported recently that restrictive policies of states that were comparable in size during the pandemic didn’t end up saving more lives than the targeted approach that states like Florida took.
And, to his credit, with DeSantis not putting restrictive policies in place, Florida’s economy as a whole seemed to suffer at least a little bit less than other Democrat-led states that shut down and were very restrictive.
Despite all of these facts, Trump obviously doesn’t want to admit that his biggest rival in the GOP primary actually did a good job – at anything. While he was certainly in the same boat as DeSantis during the pandemic, in terms of their approaches and general thoughts, the former president has turned to heavily criticizing DeSantis this year.
Trump has said plenty of times that he doesn’t regret anything he did during the pandemic. He passed the culpability for the lockdowns onto the individual governors.
DeSantis will point out, though, that the Trump administration urged Florida in January of 2021 to “increase both statewide and local public mitigation … [with] masking, physical distancing and avoiding family gatherings.”
In other words, what Trump’s administration was doing at the time is in contrast with what he’s saying now.