Joe Henderson: Donald Trump to Ron DeSantis — You gotta say it! Say it!

While the Governor remains coy about his vaccination status, his State of the State address hit all the GOP red-meat talking points.

I rarely agree with anything former President Donald Trump says, as anyone who has spent much time in this space already knows.

However, the big guy had a valid point about politicians who play dodge-the-question about the COVID-19 vaccine. Now, who do we know who continues to do that?

Hmm, let’s see.

Yes, Gov. Ron DeSantis, come on down!

The Governor does the Tallahassee two-step when asked whether he has taken a booster shot, as medical experts recommend. Well, not all experts. Joseph Ladapo, DeSantis’ hand-picked Surgeon General, noted, “Vaccines are up to the person. There’s nothing special about them compared to any other preventive measure.”

Isn’t that special?

Anyway, Trump drew boos at a recent rally when he said out loud that he is fully vaccinated, including the recommended booster shot. It didn’t seem to faze him.

He told One America News — which leans to the right of Atilla the Hun — that politicians who won’t admit they’ve taken the vaccines are “gutless.”

You gotta say it — whether you had it or not,” Trump said. “Say it. But the fact is that I think the vaccines saved tens of millions throughout the world. I’ve had absolutely no side effects.”

That might be the most lucid and intelligent thing I’ve ever heard Trump say, although it’s admittedly a short list. In the interest of full disclosure, I too have had two shots of Pfizer and a booster with no problems, and I know you’re thrilled.

In April, DeSantis received the single-dose J&J vaccine but has remained coy about the booster. It’s not hard to see why, considering how roundly the almighty GOP base booed Dear Leader when he advocated for the booster. And to be fair, Trump didn’t mention DeSantis by name, but he didn’t need to. Figuring that out didn’t require an advanced degree in tea leaf reading.

“I’ve done whatever I did, the normal shot, and that at the end of the day is people’s individual decisions about what they want to do,” DeSantis told Fox host Maria Bartiromo last month.

That clears it up. The Governor did whatever he did.

This dance between Trump and DeSantis is interesting.

Trump has clamored for a public promise from DeSantis that he won’t run for President in 2024 if the big guy gets into the race. DeSantis hasn’t offered that assurance. It clearly has gotten under Trump’s skin.

“I do think if I run, he won’t,” Trump told South Florida radio host Brian Mudd. “I know they try and create friction that I don’t think exists at all. It might, you know, you never know. If he wanted to run, that’s OK with me. I think we’d win by a lot. But he’s good. And he’s done a good job as Governor.”

Um, no. If Trump runs and DeSantis gets in the race, that most definitely would not be OK with the big guy. And if “they” — whoever “they” are — are creating fictitious friction, why does Trump keep throwing these little zingers?

By the way, did you catch the Governor’s State of the State address Tuesday at the Capitol? It was political theater worthy of Broadway and the most divisive such address I’ve heard from any Florida Governor.

DeSantis checked all the GOP boxes with that one.

He smeared Dr. Anthony Fauci and professed his love for the police. He wants to create election cops to ensure “integrity” after Florida just conducted its smoothest election in memory — so naturally, we need new voter restrictions. The Second Amendment was in there too, as is required in the Republican Speech-Making Book.

And on Wednesday, he said a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy sounds “reasonable” to him.

The man rails against mandates but appears ready to mandate what women can do with their bodies.

In short, the last couple of days sounded like a presidential campaign kickoff to me. His speech was the kind any Republican with those ambitions would give, and it doesn’t sound like he’s ready to check with Mar-a-Lago to see if that’s OK.

You know, say it. You gotta say it.

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.


  • ScienceBLVR

    January 12, 2022 at 8:40 pm

    The whole Trump vs DeSantis thing is scary as all get out..I mean the thought that either would become President in a couple of years would be as Ten Years After says, “The end of the world as we know it”, and no one would feel fine. But isn’t there some perverse pleasure in knowing that the two of them are going to eat each other? One can only hope…


    • Impeach Biden

      January 12, 2022 at 10:00 pm

      Let’s think about this. Just imagine if Gillum would have been elected as Governor if Florida. An individual more interested in doing drugs and getting freaky with male prostitutes. You can thank us for voting DeSantis. Florida is in a much better place now.


  • ScienceBLVR

    January 12, 2022 at 8:55 pm

    Oh Man..senior moment.Trump DeSantis End of the world as we know it..R.E.M.


  • Sam Francis

    January 12, 2022 at 11:27 pm

    Be careful, Joe’s crafty insights might include blaming a Confederate monument for COVID.


  • Charles

    January 13, 2022 at 10:53 am

    Classic Henderson
    Loose with the facts and truth. Yellow journalism on full display.
    Henderson has a simmering hatred for republicans and that’s ok, but spewing misinformation and untruthfullness is just reprehensible.
    But that’s Henderson- just ugly.


  • just a comment

    January 16, 2022 at 9:48 am

    The opinion of the matter is we have a internet now. and felons are always trying to revise your rights on the is not about the booster shot it is about what we will dictate and what we decide and these people were not even elected.


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