In Jacksonville Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis did not want to talk about his weekend activities in the Garden State as his own state struggles through an ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
The Governor, taking questions at the Florida Department of Health in Jacksonville, pointedly passed on four separate opportunities to defend his trip to New Jersey for political fundraising.
Florida Politics asked the question four times during the question and answer period, but DeSantis did not want to discuss the optics of out of state fundraising as Florida hospitals buckle from the pandemic burden.
The New Jersey Globe reports the “high dollar event in Deal hosted by real estate developer Joe Cayre” was DeSantis’ second Garden State getaway since April.
DeSantis has not appreciably abbreviated his travel schedule out of state during the pandemic, as he takes what look like the preliminary steps for a 2024 presidential campaign.
Though DeSantis did not respond to questions about his fundraising trip, a potential 2022 General Election opponent charged the Jersey junket was a bad move.
“Public health experts are reporting that more than 200 people are dying from COVID a day in Florida, yet Governor DeSantis would rather laugh it up on a fundraising trip in New Jersey than encourage vaccines. This isn’t the first time he’s abandoned sick and dying Floridians to cash grab for his campaign out-of-state. It’s unacceptable and inexcusable. He clearly values political money more than his job protecting Floridians,” said Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor.
DeSantis has been more open with friendly national outlets about the scope of his ambitions and his ability to juggle his political future and the state’s present fortunes. But his reticence on political ambitions, at least with the Florida press, is not necessarily new.
In June, for example, after he was called a “future world leader” at an event, DeSantis danced around a question about what’s next.
“I get, probably everywhere I go, I get people that have all these ideas and people can say what they want, but you know, we’ve got a lot to do here, so that’s the focus that I have, and we look forward to getting off and running for the 2022 cycle. Obviously, we’re planning a lot, we’re doing the stuff we need to do, there will be more coming in that regard. But look, at the end of the day, we’re really happy with the direction that the state is going,” DeSantis said.