Donald Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic could come back to haunt him as the Republican Primaries draw closer.
In a recent revelation, a letter sent from the Trump White House to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was uncovered that could be used as ammunition by his critics.
The letter, obtained by The Washington Examiner, asked DeSantis to “implement aggressive mitigation measures”, including 2-3-ply well-fitting masks and “strict physical distancing.”
TRUMP: “Florida was actually closed for a great, long period of time. You remember, [DeSantis] closed the beaches and everything else. You know, they’re trying to rewrite history.” pic.twitter.com/WuvWviLLHa
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) January 30, 2023
These requests by the Trump administration come after DeSantis had already lifted all COVID-19 restrictions in the Sunshine State back in September 2020, and had banned fines for not wearing a mask.
The letter reiterates “Florida must increase both statewide and local public mitigation. Increase communication around the importance of personal mitigation with masking, physical distancing, and avoiding family gatherings.”
The letter goes on to “Do not delay the rapid immunization of those over 65 and vulnerable to severe diseases”, and “Maintaining public confidence and maximizing vaccine acceptance” to address “persistent vaccine-hesitancy.”
Trump’s handling of the initial response to the pandemic is yet to be fully exploited by any of his opponents, and the letter to DeSantis could now be seen as Republican ammunition against his nomination.
The timing of the letter is key here, as it was written in January, with Trump publicly lashing out at DeSantis for closing the Sunshine State during that same month.
The letter also paints a stark contrast with Trump’s tellings of the past. During a White House press conference in March 2021, Trump said “I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities,”
In the end, the letter shows how Trump tried to pressure both Georgia and Florida governors over keeping lockdown measures in place, despite his public statements to the contrary.
With the primary season quickly approaching and the field narrowing, Trump’s handling of the pandemic could soon be put to the test. And with this recent letter to DeSantis now in the spotlight, his opponents could soon have an effective cudgel to use against him.