The New York Times published a less-than-flattering profile of Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis over the weekend, saying he had “elbowed his way to the front of the line of 2024 Republican hopefuls.”
“Mr. DeSantis’s inclination to keep his own counsel and drive hard at reopening Florida has made him perhaps the most recognizable Republican governor in the country and a favorite of the party faithful,” Times Miami bureau chief Patricia Mazzei wrote in the piece, headlined: “Could Ron DeSantis Be Trump’s G.O.P. Heir? He’s Certainly Trying,”
“In turn,” Mazzei continued, “he has become a polarizing leader in the resistance to lengthy pandemic lockdowns, ignoring the advice of some public health experts in ways that have left his state’s residents bitterly divided over the costs and benefits of his actions.”
“Seizing on conservative issues du jour like opposition to social media ‘censorship’ and vaccine passports, he has forged strong connections with his party’s base,” Mazzei later wrote.
After the Times previously downplayed the DeSantis response to a botched “60 Minutes” report as the governor airing a “grievance,” Saturday’s profile acknowledged that CBS News “did not have sufficient evidence to prove a pay-to-play dynamic between Mr. DeSantis’s administration and Covid-19 vaccine distribution for [W]hite and wealthy Floridians.”
“His record on the virus is, in fact, mixed,” Mazzei stated. “By some measures, Florida has had an average performance in a pandemic that is not yet over. Yet his decisions helped keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. He highlights that he helped businesses survive and allowed children to go to school.”
She continued, “What his critics cannot forget, however, is how he resisted some key public health guidelines … The restrictions he now dismisses as ineffective, such as local mask mandates and curfews, which experts say in fact worked, were imposed in most cases by Democratic mayors with whom he hardly speaks.”
While a few Republicans provided the Times with mild praise for the governor, including one unnamed ally who called the DeSantis brand “competent Trumpism,” the profile drew more attention to his critics and political adversaries.
“He infuriates passionate critics who believe he operates shrewdly to tend to his own interests. They fear that approach contributed to confusing public health messages, vaccine favoritism for the wealthy and the deaths of about 34,000 Floridians. ‘DeathSantis,’ they call him,” the Times wrote.
The profile quoted former GOP congressman-turned-MSNBC contributor David Jolly, who is currently mulling a gubernatorial run himself, a well as likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried.
“He’s taken the wrong approach on some of our most critical issues, Covid being first and foremost,” Jolly said, “yet within Republican political circles, he is considered to be the front-runner for the White House.”
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