Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Tuesday defended her decision to defy Gov. Ron DeSantis' order to fly flags at half-mast at all state offices in honor of conservative talk show star Rush Limbaugh, insisting the Republican governor was using the flag as a "political prop."
“The American flag should not be used, and cannot be used, as a political prop by Gov. DeSantis,” Fried told CNN's "New Day." "What he’s doing is bending over backward to honor a radio host who spent his entire career talking hate speech, and talking bigotry and division and conspiracy theories. And lowering our flag should be a symbol of unity, not division."
Fried, the only Democrat currently holding a statewide office in Florida, said that her offices will not be “lowering our standards” to honor Limbaugh.
She also compared the governor's order to that of President Joe Biden, who has ordered flags to be lowered over the next five days in honor of the more than 500,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19.
“That’s what we should be honoring. And when Governor DeSantis uses the flag — the American flag — as a prop, it sends a message to the rest of the citizens of our state that that is what he idolizes," said Fried.
Limbaugh, a resident of Palm Beach, died on Feb. 17 of lung cancer, a year after he announced his illness.
Meanwhile, Fried has been viewed as a potential challenger against DeSantis, a Republican, but on CNN, she sidestepped questions about the 2022 race, saying “we're not there yet” while admitting she's looking into a bid.
“Every single day it is becoming more clear that we have to get rid of Gov. DeSantis, and as the only statewide elected Democrat, there are a lot of people coming up to me and telling me that I am one of our best shots,” she said.
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