Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is hoping to be a vector for President Joe Biden in Florida after Gov. Ron DeSantis assailed the President’s efforts to stop the record-setting wave of COVID-19.
Fried, who is running in the Democratic Primary to challenge DeSantis in 2022, waded into DeSantis’ sparring with Biden this week, calling it an insult to the President and Floridians who have made sacrifices to curb the pandemic. In a move that leverages the power of her office as she trails in the Primary behind U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, she asked the President to sidestep DeSantis with federal resources Thursday. Moreover, she said she was willing to be Biden’s “conduit” if necessary.
“People are dying, our state is drowning, and instead of grabbing hold of an outstretched hand trying to help, he slaps it away,” Fried said during a Thursday press conference at her office. “Because of politics? Due to pride? Well, Mr. President, I’m not too proud to admit what the Governor won’t. We need help here in the state of Florida.”
After Biden told DeSantis to “get out of the way” of local governments trying to combat the virus on Tuesday, DeSantis responded Wednesday, telling the President that he was “standing in your way” and “I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you.”
Biden and his administration’s admonishment of the Governor and other Republican governors taking a hardline approach to the pandemic against mandates and shutdowns made a splash Tuesday. But it opened the door for DeSantis to unload on the President in a possible preview of the 2024 presidential race.
Still, Fried denied that it was a political blunder for the President to engage with a Governor and rising Republican star who routinely scores points among conservatives for attacking Biden, liberals, lockdowns and mandates. DeSantis spews misinformation and flirts with anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers instead of taking ownership of the pandemic, Fried said.
“I don’t know if it’s pride, I don’t know if it’s 2024 that’s in his eyesight, but he’s not doing right by the state,” Fried said. “It is in the right interest of the President to stand up and say, ‘look, if you’re not going to do your job, let somebody else do it.'”