With New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo having gone from self-proclaimed COVID-19 hero to having to resign from office, the White House was asked whether its back-and-forth with Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis is an effort to "kneecap him."
"Our war is not on DeSantis; it's on the virus, which we are trying to kneecap," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at Wednesday's White House briefing. "He does not seem to want to participate in that effort to kneecap the virus. Hence our concern."
Christian Pushaw, a DeSantis spokeswoman, tweeted afterward:
"Fact check: False X"
She added via tweet:
"Then maybe the Biden Administration shouldn't be whining about Governor DeSantis at every single White House press conference. It could give the wrong impression!"
Pushaw was also on top of an issue of COVID-19 data reporting from the Biden administration's Center for Disease Control and Prevention, noting the CDC reported incorrect data from Florida, but tweeting "the CDC corrected their mistake."
The issue with ventilators getting sent to Florida was heaped on DeSantis by Psaki at the press briefing.
"As a policy, we don't send ventilators to states without their interest in receiving the ventilators," Psaki told reporters. "I think the most important question here is why would you oppose receiving the ventilators when clearly you need those in your state given the percentage of hospitalizations that are occurring?"
Pushaw tweeted the request was not made by DeSantis and it was a "routine" request:
"Why is the Biden Admin trying to make this into a huge political issue? Nobody from @GovRonDeSantis office asked for ventilators. @HealthyFla did, and there’s a standard / routine process, the Governor doesn’t need to be looped in on it.
Like Cuomo a year ago, partisan backers have heaped mounds of praise on DeSantis' COVID-19 response in Florida, setting him up as a potential GOP presidential primary frontrunner in the future and putting a target on him from Democrat powerbrokers.
President Joe Biden came out last week and suggested the GOP governors of the two largest red states in the U.S. should "get out the way" of federal government efforts at containing the pandemic amid the rise of the delta variant, defiantly keeping businesses open and rejecting vaccine passports and face mask recommendations.
DeSantis shot back to the Biden administration the next day, "do your job," noting an open border policy has brought waves of COVID-infection illegals into the country. DeSantis vowed to "stand in the way" of more federal government-advised lockdowns, mask mandates, and efforts to impose vaccine passports in the state of Florida. And he concluded he did not want to hear a "blip" from the president on his COVID response.
A reporter asked Biden about DeSantis' pointed remarks the next year and Biden, acting if he could not hear the question shouted from the reporter in front of him, replied: "Governor who?"
DeSantis followed up again the next day, suggesting Biden's cognitive decline is why he had forgotten his name, asking "what else has he forgotten?"
DeSantis said that would include the Texas border citizens, adding he is the "governor who" will stand up for the rights and freedoms of Floridians against oppressive federal government interference in the state with respect to COVID-19 protocols and mandates.
Biden responded to that Tuesday, saying he found it "disingenuous" to claim government overreach on the coronavirus while banning localities and private entities from setting their own policies on masks and vaccination.
The back-and-forth comes not only as Cuomo has vowed to resign and California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a potential recall election, but also amid talk DeSantis would be a leading presidential contender in 2024, particularly if former President Donald Trump decided not to run for office again.
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