In an ongoing war of words with President Joe Biden over issues ranging from the economy to COVID-19, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis landed a stinging rhetorical blow on Friday that made a not-so-subtle reference to the president’s apparent cognitive decline, as Fox News reports.
Biden and DeSantis have been trading jabs in recent days over mask mandates, return-to-school protocols, jobs, and more, and when asked for comment on the continued back-and-forth between the two, the president on Thursday sarcastically replied, “Governor who?”
DeSantis, for his part, shot back with a healthy dose of criticism couched in wit, saying, “I guess I’m not surprised that Biden doesn’t remember me. I guess the question is what else has he forgotten?”
Turning the exchange into an opportunity to delve deeper into what he perceives as some of the president’s most serious failings, DeSantis continued, “Biden has forgotten about the crisis on our southern border I can tell you that. Biden has forgotten about the inflation that’s biting the budgets of families all throughout our country. Biden has forgotten about the demonstrators who are fighting for freedom down in Cuba. Biden’s even forgotten about the Constitution itself as we saw with what he did with this [eviction] moratorium.”
It was just a few days prior when Biden went after DeSantis publicly over rising COVID-19 cases in Florida and the governor’s declared opposition to mask mandates and vaccination passports, policies he has effectively prevented from taking root in the Sunshine State, as Politico noted.
“Some state officials are passing laws…that forbid people from doing the right thing,” the president said, pointedly targeting DeSantis as well as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R). “I say to the governors, please help. If you’re not going to help, get out of the way of the people that are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives,” Biden added.
DeSantis fired back in response, saying, “If you’re coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I’m standing in your way. If you’re trying to deny kids a proper in-person education, I’m gonna stand in your way and stand up for the kids in Florida. If you’re trying to restrict people and impose mandates and ruin their jobs and livelihood, if you are trying to lock people down, I am standing in your way. I am standing for the people of Florida.”
In speaking to reporters on Friday, DeSantis doubled down on his previous remarks and blasted federal attempts to impose new COVID-19 mitigation edicts. “I’m the governor who protects parents and their ability to make the right choices for their kids’ education,” he said, in reference to his decision to forbid mask mandates in his state’s schools. “I’m the governor who protects the jobs and education and businesses in Florida by not letting the federal government lock us down.”
DeSantis’ political fortunes within the GOP have skyrocketed in recent months, largely due to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and a number of recent straw polls have placed him as the front runner for his party’s nomination in 2024 if former President Donald Trump decides not to enter the electoral fray. As such, many suspect that the verbal sparring of the past week may just be a warm-up for what’s to come.