Following a heated exchange with a CNN reporter over problems with the state’s vaccine rollout, Gov. Ron DeSantis defended his leadership of the state’s response to COVID-19 and said he isn’t fazed by criticism from the new media.
Florida’s vaccine rollout plan has sparked chaos in some counties, where many who are first in line for inoculation have faced difficulty in getting an appointment.
“I am totally willing to wear the criticism as a badge of honor if it means that my state is a state in which every parent has the right to send their kid to in-person instruction,” DeSantis said in an interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News Tuesday evening.
“I’m happy for the criticism, because you know what, I don’t seek validation by the media. What I seek is supporting the citizens of my state. Everybody has a right to work and a right to pursue their vocation. Every business has a right to operate. And we’ve done that, we’ve trusted people.”
As previously reported by the Florida Phoenix, DeSantis was grilled during a press conference in Miami on Monday by a CNN reporter who questioned him about problems with the initial vaccine distribution.
DeSantis responded to the question by saying, “It’s a lot of demand,” as the sparring between him and the reporter continued.
According to a Tampa Bay Times report, DeSantis’ vaccine rollout plan has led to seniors desperately seeking appointments by tying up phone lines, flooding the Florida Department of Health’s website, and even “sleeping in their cars outside public health centers.”
“I think it’s pretty clear that some of these networks obviously, they have agendas. They’re doing narratives,” DeSantis told Carlson.
DeSantis said Florida was the first state in the nation to give vaccines to people age 65 and older — a group he had prioritized, along with health care workers and staff and residents of long-term care facilities.
He concluded the conversation on Fox News with a reference to his bid for reelection in 2022.
“I am pretty confident I’ll be the governor nominee in 2022 here in Florida,” he said. “We look forward to running that race.”