A recent discovery could give Republican presidential candidates more ammunition to win their party’s nomination. Although Donald Trump is still the frontrunner, his greatest weakness has not been fully exploited by his opponents: his handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
A letter from Trump’s White House addressed to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has recently been unearthed. It could be used by his right-wing critics as a weapon against him.
The former administration of Donald Trump told Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-FL to reinstate masking and social distance in Florida by 2021. This was months after the Governor had reopened Florida.
In a Washington Examiner letter, the White House Coronavirus Task Force of Trump warned DeSantis that “aggressive measures must be taken,” including “uniform application” of masks with 2-3 ply and “strict physical social distancing.”
The recent increase in COVID-19 has led to calls for the reinstatement of masking and mitigation measures. This has in turn re-ignited the debate about which Republicans responded better to the initial virus.
DeSantis lifted all COVID-19 regulations on Florida businesses and restaurants and banned fines if a mask was not worn in September 2020. This letter came months before.
The White House, under Trump, told DeSantis in the letter to push for vaccinations and social distancing:
In the letter from Trump’s task force to Florida, DeSantis received the following instruction: “Do not delay rapid immunization for those over 65 years old and susceptible to severe diseases.”
The article also recommended “aggressive and active immunization”.
The letter instructed the state to “maintain public confidence and maximize vaccine acceptance” in order to combat “persistent vaccination-hesitancy”.
In January 2021 the Trump administration sent a report to DeSantis advising that “Florida should increase public mitigation both at the state and local level. ”
The letter warned that “aggressive mitigating measures must be used in order to match an aggressive virus”, and that “without uniform application of effective face masking (2 or 3 ply, well-fitting), and strict physical distance, epidemics can quickly worsen as more transmissible diseases emerge. ”
In the beginning of January, Trump slammed DeSantis for having locked down Florida. DeSantis is seen by many as the greatest threat to former President Obama’s chances at winning the GOP nomination.
“Florida was actually closed for a great, long period of time. You remember, [DeSantis] closed the beaches and everything else. You know, they’re trying to rewrite history.”
TRUMP: “Florida was actually closed for a great, long period of time. You remember, [DeSantis] closed the beaches and everything else. You know, they’re trying to rewrite history.” pic.twitter.com/WuvWviLLHa
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) January 30, 2023
DeSantis wasn’t the only governor Trump tried to pressurize when it came time to maintain lockdown orders. He also treated Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in the same way when he decided to reopen his state.
As the primary season progresses, the content of the letter may be damning. So far, candidates have been reluctant to criticize Trump. However, as the race narrows and Trump’s previous positions on the pandemic become more apparent, they could haunt him.