April 6, 2021

"How Ron DeSantis’s critics are turning him into a hero for the right"

A WaPo column by Aaron Blake. 

Over the past year, DeSantis has repeatedly found himself targeted for his coronavirus response, sometimes in overwrought ways. The culmination came Sunday in a “60 Minutes” piece that cast a spotlight on his decision to run Florida’s coronavirus vaccination program through the grocery store chain Publix, which had donated $100,000 to his campaign in the weeks prior....

Even Florida officials with ties to the Democratic Party have defended the decision to use Publix, which is the state’s most popular grocery chain and has also donated to Democrats and progressive causes. Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner (D), whose city was a focal point of the “60 Minutes” report, said flatly that the reporting was “intentionally false” and that “60 Minutes” had declined his offer to provide a counterpoint. He said it should be “ashamed.”...

[DeSantis] has been among the most forceful GOP governors when it comes to keeping his state’s economy open.... All told, Florida’s number of coronavirus cases and the official death toll are very middle-of-the-road....

[H]e has a plausible case to make to Republicans that he’s being singled out politically by nefarious Democrats and the media. He has embraced Trump, too — Trump’s endorsement was big when it came to DeSantis’s ascension to the governorship two years ago — but building a brand while playing upon Trumpian themes probably only makes him stronger.

DeSantis is the governor of a big state, and that comes with both appropriate scrutiny and the possibility that this scrutiny will overreach. But when it comes to Republicans who can use that scrutiny to build their brands — and potentially launch a 2024 presidential candidacy based on that, rather than on Trump’s good graces — DeSantis has no equal at this point.


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