Joe Henderson: Ron DeSantis’ absence could have been handled better
Image via Facebook.

He was exactly where he should have been, but someone could have said so.

Anyone who would blame Gov. Ron DeSantis for choosing to be with his wife, Casey, during her cancer treatments last month should re-evaluate their life. And if he chose to keep that family matter private, that’s between him and his wife.

Let’s not forget that Casey is the mother of three young children and has a dangerous disease. I’m sure she is receiving the best care anyone could, and we all wish her a full recovery, but those chemo treatments are not the same as taking aspirin to make it all go away.

The long-term effects of chemo include cognitive difficulties, lung and heart problems, and the increased risk of other cancers. She has a long road ahead.

But when you’re the Governor of a large state like Florida, and you go off the grid for a couple of weeks the way DeSantis did, people will talk unless they know the facts. And for too long, they did not.

Political critics implied he was sleeping on the job while the omicron variant announced its presence in Florida with authority. When that happened, the Governor’s staff all but handed his opponents the megaphone to attack.

For instance, on Dec. 30 — while the “Where’s Ron?” mania was turning into a national story — the Governor’s Twitter account posted, “Had some great bagels from Bagelicious Deli & Bakery in Ocala.”

He had those “great bagels” nearly two weeks before that tweet went out. But to casual observers, it looked like he was hanging out at a bagel shop while COVID-19 cases hit the after-burner in Florida.

If an aide with access to his account sent that tweet out on their own, that would be a colossal public relations miscalculation.

A day later, another tweet on the Governor’s account showed him at a high school football game played weeks before.

That just made things stranger until a story on Fox News solved the mystery of the Governor’s whereabouts.

Again, DeSantis was where he should have been — at his wife’s side. And if you want to say that, well, she wasn’t in chemotherapy for two weeks while the Governor stayed mostly out of sight, I’d counter that we don’t know how well she was feeling during that time.

Republicans are having a field day with those on the left who loudly questioned what DeSantis was up to. Democrat Nikki Fried went on MSNBC to complain, “I don’t know where he is. But quite honestly, even if he was here, he wouldn’t be doing anything anyhow, and we know that.”

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said state residents “should be outraged” with DeSantis not being in front of the media during the virus spike.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott rebuked U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for saying DeSantis was absent during the latest surge of COVID-19 cases.

“AOC is just a complete hypocrite. She does it, the Democrats do it, the left media does it,” Scott said. “They watch Joe Biden go and buy ice cream every day, but then they attack Republicans every moment they can.”

Let’s be clear about one thing, though.

This could have been avoided with a simple news release when people began making a thing out of the Governor’s absence.

It could have said: The Governor will be at his wife’s side for the next several days as she undergoes further treatment for her breast cancer. The family appreciates your support and requests privacy at this time.

Most people would have understood, and those who didn’t would have looked bad. Instead, due to poor communications, this became a much bigger thing than it should have.

It was avoidable.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Alex

    January 3, 2022 at 7:43 pm

    The most interesting part is he has totally and completely failed to address the omicron surge at all.

    It’ll be interesting to hear what kind of freakish/dangerous/idiotic nonsense he comes up with this time.

    • BAK 1

      January 3, 2022 at 8:09 pm

      I really think you should read more and not being derogatory toward you. If you think about it he has children and a wife that is ill but still keeps on working for the state. Let’s talk Omnicron,
      I have had every shot 2vax & booster, Flu shot and now they say not strong enough, and pneumonia shots, so I dont have any of it but what the Government is not talking about is:
      I have been sick with this for 7 days not one news caster, if you want to call them that, has brought it up. My friends went to Georgia to see there son and he had shingles around his waste so they waved from the car. Then onto Michigan for her family and they got it after the vax. One thing I’ll say if there was a 4th I’d take it.

    • Ellen

      January 6, 2022 at 5:36 am

      I saw videos where DeSantis and his wife were in South Florida, Kendall to be exact last weekend attending a concert and a political event at a Baptist Church. They were in crowds of people and not wearing masks. So much for her chemo treatment as all are advised to stay away from crowds and to wear masks when in treatment.

  • ScienceBLVR

    January 3, 2022 at 8:02 pm

    Call me a cynic, but does it occur to anyone else that DeSantis’s office intentionally kept quiet about this to engender the exact response and questions about his absence he got while Florida Covid cases soared? Cue the righteous indignation once it’s revealed he’s at his cancer stricken wife’s side and not just out lollygagging somewhere. Seems pretty convenient, contrived and politically motivated to me…it’s almost as if FOX was expecting it to happen.

    • Alex

      January 3, 2022 at 8:19 pm

      If he had announced it in advance most people would have understood.

      It’s that he didn’t and simply disappeared that’s the problem.

      I think he was afraid of the optics of taking “family leave”, which his party opposes for the working people of America, but virtually every other country on the planet has.

      • Tom

        January 3, 2022 at 9:18 pm

        You are pathetic liar Alex.
        You can’t wind sock your way out.
        I addressed you and the pathetic Manchurian extremists below.,
        You are the epitome of hater!
        Get help!

      • Tom

        January 3, 2022 at 9:21 pm

        Liar Alex.
        You got your ass kicked!

    • Dave Croxford

      January 4, 2022 at 11:24 am

      Well said….and I guess I’m just as cynical as you are.

  • tom palmer

    January 3, 2022 at 8:04 pm

    DeSantis’ communications skills do leave something to be desired He can often be his own worst enemy. Good point, Joe. However, his critics need to be more judicious as well.

  • Tom

    January 3, 2022 at 8:22 pm

    Joe, appreciate you and Tom.
    Respectfully, reading Alex, and day dream disbeliever and no homecoming king prove as to why it wouldn’t matter. They claimed he had Covid, they still would have ridiculed. What we witnessed is the liberal media lefts ability to brow beat, bully and badger who they detest! They fear America’s Gov! Period full stop. They never do this to their own! AOC is garbage, Fraud & mayor Demings are pathetic. I told you months ago, Biden’s incompetent team is to blame. They made him America’s Gov. Now they are upside down negative in 45 states. He should send them a thank u note!
    Good for the Gov staying with his wife and kids!
    God bless and help them.
    It’s just a joke! As Haters are just gonna hate, hate hate. Taylor Swift sings, “u gotta shake it off”.

    • Mike32328

      January 4, 2022 at 12:28 am

      To be clear, it is perfectly fine and the right thing to do to be by his wife’s side and prayers go out to their family for Mrs. DeSantis to make a full and healthy recovery. Having said that, both Mr. and Mrs. DeSantis were at a very crowded public event in South Florida for the Governor to accept an award on New Years Eve. So yes, he should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time when a record number of Floridians were being found positive with Covid-19. That is the facts 💯

  • smith P joanne

    January 3, 2022 at 8:22 pm

    You are absolutely right. There was a better way but unfortunately DeSantis is only one way. HIS

  • Ocean Joe

    January 3, 2022 at 8:38 pm

    What’s important is that he was with family, and we all got a break from his incessant “I’m not running for president” presidential campaign.

  • Charles

    January 3, 2022 at 9:06 pm

    It was avoidable for your democratic chums as to fact check or confirmation but of course they couldn’t wait to bash DeSantis Your blaming the victim is priceless, just priceless

    • Alex

      January 3, 2022 at 9:52 pm

      Fox announced he was with his wife three days ago.

      He was completely out of touch since the 22nd.

      You do the math.

      • Tom

        January 3, 2022 at 10:06 pm

        Governor DeSantis, America’s Governor does not need to ask the media or anyone else permission.
        At all! Full stop period.
        It’s over!

  • Impeach Biden

    January 3, 2022 at 9:23 pm

    Whoever the Dem candidate for Governor is; “Mary Jane” Fried, “flip flopped” Charlie Crist, or now “RV’ing” Tadeo, stand any chance to defeat DeSantis. Now the liberal media in the state and in the entire country is all in trying to smear our outstanding Governor. The Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel editorial board has lost its mind in its full on effort against DeSantis. There is no doubt in my mind this rag propaganda paper would endorse Gillum again.

  • Jerry

    January 3, 2022 at 10:38 pm

    What exactly do you want? First off, Biden has cornered the markets. The Democrats want the federal government to be the distributors of COVID treatments and tests so that there is a “equitable” distribution. So the federal government is trying to take power away from the states. And meanwhile, Biden never signed the deal to provide the test kits. So now the whole country is short.

    Second, Florida will NEVER lockdown. We are NEVER going to mandate masks. We are NEVER going to mandate vaccination. Period. End of story. Both the governor and the legislature have made this abundantly clear. The liberal media and the Democrats can cry all they want about it. They can scream all they want about the statistics. But we are not going to become a COVID authoritarian state. Period. If that’s what you want, you may be happier somewhere else.

    • Tom Cotton

      January 4, 2022 at 12:20 am

      Can’t wait to see how this works out for Florida when the next pandemic hits. It is not a matter of if, but when. Public health measures seem like a joke to Florida, but grounded, functioning countries like Japan and South Korea are successful in implementing them. Florida, however, is a test case in how the United States is regressing as a country, thanks to the leadership of a megalomaniac governor and his desire to court angry, anti-science voters to his state and for his future presidential run.

      • Tom

        January 4, 2022 at 4:54 pm

        Compared to impostor piece of crap like you.

  • Until it gets personal

    January 4, 2022 at 9:18 am

    Ron DeSantis won his first term in Congress on a platform of full repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act, which, among many other things, requires breast cancer screenings.

  • Elizabeth Dey

    January 4, 2022 at 10:32 am

    What happened to common sense? Everyone knows his wife has breast cancer and may need her husband’s presence for a while…
    I Those who do not have common sense always believe the worst. The family needs our prayers.

  • Tom

    January 4, 2022 at 4:52 pm

    It’s amazing Ocean Joe how low you can be when presented. Along with your Manchurian nation, all are pathetic heals.

  • Laurie

    January 5, 2022 at 12:27 am

    DeSantis may or may not have been by his wife’s side, or DeSantis may have had the virus or may not. But guessing more toward the virus. When his wife has had other treatments he was all over the State of Florida, just saying.

  • Ocean Joe

    January 5, 2022 at 6:46 pm

    Folks, I don’t know or care if Desantis had covid, hopefully not, but look at this video. Disclaimer: has the audio been tampered with?
    Sounds like a guy having trouble breathing.
    Tom, aka The self-described Legend, what do you think?

  • Tom

    January 6, 2022 at 7:50 am

    Ocean Joe, Thanks.
    I watched the presser.
    Yes. He appeared to be struggling. I thought initially he was tearing up. It may have been some congestion. It cleared up pretty quickly.
    He went on and was good, took secretly questions.

  • Tom

    January 6, 2022 at 8:00 am

    He Went on and took several questions.

    Btw, Ocean Joe Yes, I am legend. Look up the outline on the Govs presser being held up by protestors. I was able to goad J D, long time Manchurian back in. He was really upset. Several other Manchurians jumped in. It appears I motivate them greatly, LOL.

  • Tom

    January 6, 2022 at 8:06 am

    Ocean, my conservative brothers and sisters find great value and strength in my consistent message, countering the extremist liberal bias. Just saying Ocean Joe

    • Tom

      January 7, 2022 at 7:31 pm

      Are you kidding.
      You are a fool.

  • Frank N Dorman

    January 7, 2022 at 9:54 am

    Apparently Joe Henderson’s not a journalist. He accepts Fox “News” explanation for DeSantis’s absence.

  • Tom

    January 7, 2022 at 7:38 pm

    3 or 4 out of 5 times he takes issue with America’s Gov. I read him. I share what I think is important. Joe is old school, in my view.
    It’s a discussion of ideas.

Comments are closed.


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