The Biden administration has been critical of certain Republican leaders, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for acting to prevent COVID-19 mandates on issues like masks and vaccines.
In a statement on Wednesday, however, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki denied that the administration is waging a political war against DeSantis.
“At least get out of the way”
According to the Washington Examiner, Psaki insisted that the White House is only working to “kneecap” the pandemic, insinuating that certain GOP governors are not sufficiently supportive of that goal.
Her remarks came in response to a question citing a recent New York Post op-ed by Karol Markowicz.
In that piece, the author asserted that Biden and his team have repeatedly made provocative comments aimed at DeSantis, including last week when the president called out those opposed to vaccine mandates, stating: “If you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way.”
For his part, DeSantis has not hesitated to speak out against the Biden administration, which has prompted an increased backlash from critics on the left and in the mainstream media.
Markowicz argued that the Florida governor’s refusal to “bend the knee” in response to progressive narratives on COVID-19 policies has made him a target. At the same time, she noted that it has resulted in his state remaining open for business — unlike a number of states led by Democrats.
“Hence our concern”
Near the end of her recent press briefing, Psaki fielded a reporter’s question about the Post editorial.
“Our war is not on DeSantis,” she replied. “It’s on the virus, which we’re trying to kneecap. And he does not seem to want to participate in that effort to kneecap the virus, hence our concern.”
In light of the incessant attacks from Biden and his allies, however, it might be hard for some DeSantis supporters to view the situation as anything but an all-out political war.
While the barbed criticisms are typically couched in a discussion of masks, vaccines, school closures, lockdowns, or some other pandemic-related issue, some pundits have noted that the same critiques are rarely aimed at Democratic governors whose states are arguably faring worse throughout the course of the public health crisis.
In reality, DeSantis remains widely popular among voters in his state and conservatives nationwide, placing him near the top of the list of possible GOP frontrunners in the 2024 presidential race.