A new ad from The Lincoln Project attacks Gov. Ron DeSantis for failing to stop COVID-19’s spread in schools.
Titled “Pro-Life,” the television ad, which hit Tallahassee airwaves Friday, juxtaposes the Governor’s vocal anti-lockdown politics with the surge in coronavirus infections. Images of empty halls and schools cut in between headlines noting the increasing number of child infections.
A Tampa Bay Times headline reads: “Florida leads the nation in kids hospitalized for COVID.”
An Orlando Sentinel story states: “Central Florida children increasingly being hospitalized for COVID-19; some were eligible for vaccination.”
The Florida Times Union reports: “’Gut-wrenching’: Children making more of Jacksonville’s surge of COVID hospitalizations.”
The Miami Herald spotlights: “Florida’s Children’s hospitals see pediatric COVID cases soar amid dellta variant surge.”
The ad then wraps with DeSantis’ own words at a CPAC convention, boasting not about getting a surge of cases under control, but of his refusal to close schools.
“Florida got it right and the lockdown states got it wrong,” he says to applause.
The ad comes after DeSantis’ national profile has grown and he has become an almost nightly presence on cable news.
The Lincoln Project was formed by long-time GOP political consultants who campaigned successfully against the reelection of former President Donald Trump. Now the group has turned its sights on many of the GOP leaders in the nation following the Mar-a-Lago retiree’s campaign template, said Rick Wilson, a Florida-based consultant and co-founder of The Lincoln Project.
“As the man Fox News has chosen to replace Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis is the perfect example of the modern Republican: He doesn’t believe in local control, he doesn’t believe in science, and he’s indifferent (to) the lives of the people who (he) governs,” Wilson said. “Thousands of Floridians may die unnecessarily, including a tragic number of children and young adults, but hey, at least he’s owning the Libs.”
Wilson wants voters in his home state to know, as DeSantis prepares to run for reelection, that he’s more interested in messaging to the far right than in governing for children, or even allowing local governments to do much to protect them.
“We’re here to make sure the people of Florida, and the people DeSantis will present himself to as he begins his run for President, know what kind of man he really is,” Wilson said.
DeSantis has been increasingly at odds with school boards over mask mandates, forbidding school districts from requiring masks for students. But as schools opened and saw a surge in infections, at least 10 districts have defied him and put in mandates with no general opt-out. Now more than half of Florida students go to school under such a mandate.