With President Joe Biden hosting a town hall on a rival network Thursday, Fox News naturally booked the man supporters call “America’s Governor” to counterprogram the Democratic President.
Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared in the second quarter-hour of Tucker Carlson, after a week in which he redoubled his opposition to Biden on several issues.
He vowed Special Session action against federal vaccine mandates. Additionally, he suggested Florida could save Christmas from Biden-caused supply bottlenecks, offering seemingly unlimited capacity for rerouted freight at ports.
Those talking points popped up again in the Tucker hit. DeSantis defended the need for a Special Session, noting that mandates are “unconstitutional” and “bad all around.”
“Yes, we’re going to be doing litigation,” DeSantis said, “but we also need legislation.”
Asked if he expected confrontation with the Biden administration, DeSantis exclaimed, “well, I’m sure they’ll do whatever they can,” blaming Biden for “trying to cut off the supply of Regeneron” earlier this year. It’s worth noting DeSantis downplayed the effects of that cut in a recent news conference.
Moving on to supply issues, DeSantis again trumpeted “capacity” at Florida ports, reminding that the state’s seaports could be the partial solution to queued-up cargo ships languishing off ports elsewhere.
“They made a big deal about L.A. starting to do 24/7. We always do 24/7 in Florida,” DeSantis said, echoing his memorable catchphrase promoting Florida’s logistical dedication, the same language from days before in front of Florida reporters.
“You might as well bring it to Florida,” DeSantis cajoled.
The segment ended before the midpoint of the hour, with DeSantis not benefiting from leading off even the quarter-hour, much less the A-Block of the program. Not covered was DeSantis’ stance against the “weaponized” Justice Department regarding school board protests that have become dangerous in some locales.
DeSantis, who has said Biden is “standing in his way,” set the table for political activity starting Friday. As POLITICO Florida‘s Gary Fineout noted, the Fox News appearance is a prelude to a fundraising swing that takes DeSantis to California in the coming days.
DeSantis has dismissed speculation that he wants to run for President as “purely manufactured.” Despite such demurrals, there was a canned quality to this appearance and its precise timing after a series of in-state red meat news conferences and before a West Coast swing.
Indeed, a fundraising appeal from the Governor’s political committee pushing merchandise preceded the TV hit by an hour or so.
“That’s why we’re rolling out BRAND-NEW ‘Don’t Tread On Florida’ merchandise EXCLUSIVELY at our Team DeSantis store. Now is your chance to support Florida as the model of freedom in America today! We aren’t backing down, and we aren’t giving away our freedom in Florida!” a fundraising email read.
With an eye toward synergy, Fox News helpfully pitched the merchandise as a hook for a story about the Special Session ahead of the DeSantis show-up.
One could argue this appearance was an attempt to remind viewers that he indeed has a presidential timbre, as former President Donald Trump continues to dominate the 2024 landscape on the right. Even potential 2022 Democratic opponents to DeSantis’ reelection have very recently needled the Governor about his presidential aspirations.
“And that begs the question — with everything going on in our state, why the hell is (DeSantis) calling a special session on this? I think I know the answer. Because he’s running for President as Donald Trump, Jr. Jr.,” snarked a fundraising email from Nikki Fried Thursday.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist tweeted likewise: “We all know why Ron is pulling this stunt — so he can show his loyalty to Trump. It’s disgusting, it’s wrong, and I vehemently oppose it.”