After Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ lengthy rebuttal to President Joe Biden‘s rebuke of his pandemic response, Biden dismissed DeSantis’ speech in a five-word rebuttal Thursday.
“Governor who?” Biden said, laughing off a reporter’s request for comment. “That’s my response.”
After Biden told DeSantis and other Republicans 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.”
DeSantis’ four-minute retort, a possible preview of the 2024 presidential race, drew national headlines. Meanwhile, the Governor’s campaign committee highlighted his remarks in a fundraising email that evening.
DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, tweeted a sarcastic response after Biden’s quip.
“Totally cool and normal…” she wrote.
Rising tensions between Biden and DeSantis appeared to boil over this week. That followed an executive order DeSantis issued Friday banning school mask requirements. And in the subsequent days, Florida hit grim records for daily COVID-19 hospitalizations.
During a press conference Tuesday, Biden called bans against mask and vaccine mandates the “worst of all,” both of which DeSantis has issued.
“If some governors aren’t willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, then they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it,” Biden said. “I say to these governors, please help. If you’re not going to help, at least get out of the way of people who are trying to do the right thing.”
When asked by name, Biden criticized DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for making personal decisions detrimental to public health.
“I believe the results of their decisions are not good for their constituents, and it’s clear to me and to most medical experts that the decisions being made like not allowing mask mandates in school are bad health policy,” Biden said.
Like on Thursday, the President similarly dismissed DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic during that press conference. At its conclusion, a reporter asked Biden why he doesn’t call DeSantis.
“To say happy birthday? What?” Biden responded. “He knows the message. We had a little discussion when I was down there. He knows the message. He’s decided.”
Biden was last in Florida in early July, in the aftermath of the condo collapse in Surfside. That tragedy yielded an unusual respite from the sharp criticisms DeSantis frequently lobs at the White House.
DeSantis’ relationship with Biden strongly contrasts with the relationship he shared with President Donald Trump during his term. Trump, who paved DeSantis’ path to the Governor’s Mansion with his endorsement, repeatedly praised the Governor as a friend and effective leader.
With DeSantis facing reelection next year and a possible 2024 run, tensions aren’t likely to cool in the near future.