“It’s very important that we unequivocally say no to blockades, no school closures, no restrictions and no warrants,” DeSantis told the crowd at a Conservative state policy conference in the Utah Wednesday.
The approaches of DeSantis and other potential 2024 GOP candidates frequently reflect former President Donald Trump’s downplay of the pandemic and right-wing television networks – poised to play a central role in the next presidential primary race of the GOP – who criticized Dr Anthony Fauci, opposed government mandates and raised questions about the effectiveness of vaccines.
Ahead of his re-election as governor in 2022 – and a possible presidential race in 2024 – DeSantis is using Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease official, as a political punching bag, touting his opposition to Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
His comments followed the CDC which issued stricter mask-wearing guidelines as the more contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 ravages parts of the United States and President Joe Biden took a tougher approach to urge Americans to get vaccinated. “People are dying and will die, who don’t have to die,” Biden said in a speech Thursday.
In a fundraising email Wednesday, DeSantis said Fauci should be fired.
“The corporate media are Fauci’s praetorian guard, and they attack me because I’m willing to hold Fauci accountable,” DeSantis said.
The Florida governor’s political team, who is due for re-election next year, sent another fundraising email Thursday lashing out at Fauci.
“The beloved unelected bureaucratic leader of the left, Dr Fauci, who assured us that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks, now recommends that vaccinated adults wear masks again …”, says the email. “Fauci also wants to force 3-year-olds to wear masks indefinitely. “
And on Friday, DeSantis told a news conference he would sign an executive order banning schools from requiring students to wear masks – a move that followed Broward County public schools’ choice to return the masks. mandatory. He also said his three young children did not wear masks.
“My wife and I are not going to mask the kids. We never did, we won’t. I want to see my children smile. I want them to have fun, ”he said.
DeSantis and other potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates began to fight over who most proudly ignored the recommendations of federal public health officials and condemned those officials and agencies.
The headline of a Friday fundraising email from Kentucky Senator Rand Paul: “Fauci’s Lies are Criminal.” “
The race to resist mask mandates, business closures and more is already unfolding as the party’s shadow presidential race – a race that could only erupt in plain sight if Trump decides not to run in 2024 – begins to expand in early-voting states primaries and at conferences with party activists.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem used his early trips to Iowa and conservative political rallies to take implicit punches against DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republicans who imposed masks and closed some businesses during the pandemic.
“We have Republican governors across this country claiming they haven’t closed their states; that they have not closed their regions; that they didn’t mandate the masks, ”Noem said at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas last time around. month. “Now I am not fighting with the Republican governors. All I’m saying is we need leaders with courage. That their first instinct is the right instinct. ”
She bragged that South Dakota had not ordered the closure of a “one-stop business.”
“We did not mandate. We trusted our employees and that told them that personal responsibility was the best answer, ”Noem said.
South Dakota has seen an increase in Covid-19 cases but fails to see the dramatic spike other states – particularly in the south – have seen in recent weeks.
Abbott, Texas, on Thursday signed an order banning vaccination requirements or mask warrants – a move that also barred local governments from implementing their own policies.
Texas, which is seeing a dramatic increase in Covid-19 cases, has reported an average of more than 7,700 new cases per day over the past week. Hospitals there are bracing for an increase in the number of Covid-19 patients, and analysis of data from the Texas Department of State Health Services shows that 99% of people who have died in Texas since February from the coronavirus were not vaccinated .
Abbott has also identified a new scapegoat for the wave of Covid-19 cases in Texas: migrants.
He signed a decree ordering state soldiers to stop any vehicle if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that it is transporting certain migrants who have illegally crossed the US-Mexico border and have been released from customs custody. and US border protection.
If state officials confirm that the migrants being transported fall into this category, then the agency must redirect the vehicle to its point of origin, in accordance with the ordinance. The order also gives state soldiers the power to impound vehicles used to transport the migrants in question.
“The dramatic increase in illegal border crossings has also led to a dramatic increase in Covid-19 cases among illegal migrants who have entered our state, and we must do more to protect Texans from this virus and reduce the burden. of our communities, ”Abbott said in a statement regarding the order Thursday.