Supporters laud him as America’s Governor. But does he really belong to the world?
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said this week that people from as far away as Australia are looking to him for hope when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions, with the Sunshine State “not just inspiring people from around the country, but around the world.”
“How do I know that? Because I have people writing to me from Australia and Canada and some of these places, saying that they’re looking to Florida for leadership, and they appreciate that we’re actually standing and defending people’s rights and liberties,” DeSantis said.
COVID-19 has been linked to the deaths of more than 54,000 Floridians, while a little more than 1,250 Australians have died from the virus. Australia has a population of about 25 million across its vast landscape, about 3 million more people than Florida.
Australians have dealt with aggressive lockdowns this Summer, especially in major cities, and apparently they’ve had some time to do some letter writing while sequestered.
DeSantis made the remarks at the Latin Builders Association’s 40th Annual Awards Ceremony, marking the second trade show in which he decided, for reasons unclear, to wade into unsolicited critiques of Australia’s aggressive approach to COVID-19 mitigation.
“You say, like, ‘It can’t happen here,'” DeSantis said Tuesday in Tampa.
“You know, you guys, look what’s going on in Australia right now. You know, they’re enforcing, after a year and a half, they’re still enforcing lockdowns by the military,” DeSantis said, before posing the question of whether Australia even has the same level of freedom of communist China.
“That’s not a free country. It’s not a free country at all. In fact, I mean, I wonder why we would still have the same diplomatic relations when they’re doing that. Is Australia freer than China, communist China, right now? I don’t know. The fact that that’s even a question tells you something has gone dramatically off the rails with some of this stuff,” DeSantis said then.
DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw later said on Twitter that the Chinese Communist Party is worse than the government of Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, visiting the U.S. for talks with leaders of the U.S., Japan and India, was asked about his nation’s approach to the pandemic during an appearance Sunday on the CBS News show “Face the Nation.”
“Do you think less liberty is medically necessary?” Margaret Brennan, the show’s moderator, asked Morrison. “We have a huge argument over that in this country. Why did you think it was worth it in Australia?”
Morrison defended his government’s stance on COVID-19, adding that restrictions imposed because of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus are starting to ease.
“That said, we’re still different societies, and in Australia when it comes to public health, we’re a very pragmatic nation,” Morrison said. “And I can tell you the virus doesn’t care what you believe. The virus cares about how it can come and take your life. And in Australia, we’ve introduced what we believe are practical controls that have saved tens of thousands of lives. And I think the proof of those decisions is in the results.”
The Australian, a center-right national newspaper, played up DeSantis’ comment, while noting that Florida has become a target for Democrats and “health extremists across the U.S. for its approach to COVID-19.”
Worth watching: While the Australia verbiage was pre-established Tuesday, the introduction of Canada to DeSantis’ routine was new for Friday’s remarks.