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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) countered a jab Tuesday from former President Trump about his COVID-19 response, saying that the former president’s “whole family” moved to Florida under his governorship.
“This is new,” DeSantis told ’s Kellie Meyer at a press conference when asked about Trump’s latest comments. “Six months ago, he would have never said that, right? He used to say how great Florida was.”
“Hell, his whole family moved to Florida under my governorship,” he quipped.
Trump took aim at the Florida governor in a Truth Social post Tuesday, noting that the state had the third highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in 2021.
“So why do they say that DeSanctus did a good job?” the former president asked. “New York had fewer deaths! Also, he shut down the State, and even its beaches (unlike other Republican Governors).”
However, Florida is also the third largest state in the country. The Sunshine State sits more in the middle of the pack when COVID-19 deaths are scaled by 100,000 people, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
DeSantis also suggested Tuesday that Trump should focus his efforts on President Biden rather than himself.
“Look if someone is saying that, I am gonna counterpunch. I am gonna fight back on it,” he said. “I am going to focus my fire on Biden, and I think he should do the same. He gives Biden a free pass.”
“I am focusing on Biden. That’s my focus,” DeSantis added.
The Florida governor formally announced his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination last week in a glitch-ridden Twitter Spaces event.
While he is the only candidate to make headway against Trump in the polls so far, DeSantis remains more than 30 points behind the former president, according to a polling average from FiveThirtyEight.