- by cnn
- 29 Sep 2023
Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is attacking former President Donald Trump for "turning the country over to [Dr. Anthony] Fauci in March 2020" but DeSantis was praising the chief public health official at the same time in previously unreported quotes, saying Fauci was "really, really good and really, really helpful" and "really doing a good job."
In other comments, the Florida governor said he deferred to Fauci's guidance on COVID-19 restrictions and later cited his guidance when communicating the policies he was putting in place early in the pandemic in the state of Florida.
"You have a lot of people there who are working very, very hard, and they're not getting a lot of sleep," DeSantis said on March 25, 2020, at a briefing on Florida's response. "And they're really focusing on a big country that we have. And from Dr. Birx to Dr. Fauci to the vice president who's worked very hard, the surgeon general, they're really doing a good job. It's a tough, tough situation, but they're working hard."
In one of his first appearances as a candidate for the Republican nomination for president, DeSantis attacked Trump for following Fauci's guidance during the Covid pandemic. Fauci served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases until retiring in 2022. He played a key early role in crafting the administration's response to the pandemic, but often was criticized and sidelined by then-President Trump.
"I think [Trump] did great for three years, but when he turned the country over to Fauci in March of 2020 that destroyed millions of people's lives," DeSantis said last Thursday. "And in Florida, we were one of the few that stood up, cut against the grain, took incoming fire from media, bureaucracy, the left, even a lot of Republicans, had schools open, preserved businesses."
"If you are faced with a destructive bureaucrat in your midst like a Fauci, you do not empower somebody like Fauci. You bring him into the office and you tell him to pack his bags: You are fired," DeSantis said Tuesday at one of his first campaign events in Iowa.
Bryan Griffin, a spokesman for DeSantis, told CNN he initially followed guidance from Fauci but changed course and didn't look back.
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