Ron DeSantis: Trump takes thinly veiled shot at ‘gutless’ Florida gov. over Covid booster

Trump, who announced at an event last month that he had received a booster dose in addition to a vaccination, criticized “corrupt” politicians who refused to be similarly transparent with their booster status. His comments came just weeks after DeSantis avoided a question about getting a boost during his December appearance on Fox Business — a response his staff later claimed the governor gave because it was a “private medical” matter.

Trump’s comments come as the former president made no secret of his frustration with DeSantis during private conversations with aides and allies. As CNN previously reported, DeSantis infuriated Trump for refusing to rule out a presidential bid in 2024 in the Republican primary that also includes the former president.

“I watched an interview with two politicians and one of the questions was, ‘Have you got a booster shot? Because they got vaccinated and they answer like this – in other words, the answer is “yes” but they don’t want to say it, because they know nothing.”

“You have to say that,” he added. “Say it whether you get it or not.”

DeSantis told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo back in December that he “did everything I did, the normal shot” when asked if he had received a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine. The rest of his response focused on his opposition to vaccine mandates as a governor, saying the Covid-19 vaccine and subsequent booster shots should be “an individual decision for the people.”

On Tuesday, DeSantis refused to mention the word “vaccine” once in his 30-minute state speech. Instead, he declared Florida “the freest state in this United States” and “an escape hatch for those who rage under authoritarian, arbitrary and seemingly never-ending mandates and restrictions.” Like many states, Florida recently reported a record wave of new COVID-19 infections and a sharp rise in hospitalizations among unvaccinated individuals.

DeSantis once defended the arrival of a vaccine as a game-changing factor in the pandemic. In early 2021, he was hands-on spreading the shot to senior communities across the state. But when vaccination eligibility was extended to younger populations, where vaccine resistance was stronger and higher among conservatives, DeSantis pivoted significantly. Unlike many political leaders, including in his own party, he refused to vaccinate in front of the camera. His office quietly confirmed in April that DeSantis had received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and his communications team declined to say whether he followed up with a booster dose, insisting that this was private medical information.

Rather than openly encouraging vaccination and boosters, DeSantis focused on alternative therapies such as monoclonal antibodies while opposing federal vaccination mandates.

In a statement to CNN on Wednesday, DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Buchou claimed it wasn’t clear whether Trump was referring to the Florida Republican in his criticism.

“President Trump did not mention Governor DeSantis in that interview, so I don’t want to make assumptions. Governor DeSantis has always been clear about his position on vaccinations and boosters for Covid-19: The shots should be available to everyone but without authorization and the option to get a vaccine or a booster dose is a decision.” individual medical.

Both men have shown an interest in the White House, though DeSantis has publicly asserted that his only goal for now is to secure re-election in November for a second term as governor. Meanwhile, Trump has been considering choosing DeSantis as his running mate if he makes an offer to come back in 2024 and claims he will easily “defeat” the Florida governor in the GOP primaries.

“I beat him like I would beat anyone else,” the 45th president told Yahoo Finance in October.

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