Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis has been at the center of conversations lately concerning the next presidential pick as far back as February. DeSantis was identified through a straw poll at CPAC as the Republican party’s presidential candidate frontrunner for the 2024 presidential election.
Despite facing allegations recently about taking donations in exchange for favors in his home state the governor has democratic support. A feature on 60 Minutes called Florida’s Governor out, saying he chose the pharmacy Publix as the state’s vaccine distributor because they were willing to put $100,000 toward having him re-elected. Public donation records show that there was indeed a donation of that value made by Publix to DeSantis’ campaign; however, DeSantis denies that it was in exchange for any sort of favor.
Democrats even took a bi-partisan approach and came to the defense of Governor DeSantis. Multiple Democrats rose to the occasion and backed his stance, instead, telling 60 Minutes that they were leaping to conclusions without any evidence. Both Jared Moskowitz, the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and Dave Kerner, Mayor of Palm Beach County, publicly spoke in favor of DeSantis.
Moskowitz took to social media, and stated boldly, “I said this before and I’ll say it again. [Publix] was recommended by [Florida Division of Emergency Management]…Period!” Moskowitz continued, adding, “No one from the Governor’s office suggested Publix. It’s just absolute malarkey.” Mayor Dave Kerner’s statements called the reporting by 60 Minutes “intentionally false,” going on to add that it was the county who had requested expanding the partnership with Publix.
The Governor’s office offered a statement on Monday defending their decision to use Publix as their vaccine distributor, saying “Florida partnered with Publix because they were ready…in a matter of days…other pharmacies were not ready. Not utilizing this partnership with Publix as soon as possible would have been malpractice, especially as the state was racing to vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.” Although this statement may be true, tempting scandal of any kind while attempting to run for such a high office may not bode well for him moving forward.
Somewhat ironically, thrusting DeSantis into the spotlight earned him more favor. After the 60 Minutes report aired, Florida’s Governor was able to make the rounds on some conservative television programs, including Tucker Carlson Tonight and Fox and Friends, where he was able to publicly defend himself. “I know corporate media thinks that they can just run over people; you ain’t running over this governor. I’m punching back,” said DeSantis, continuing to call the report “horse manure” and express that the goal was to get as many people vaccinated as possible and Publix could help him to that the quickest.
It’s clear that the Governor resonates with individuals around the country as recent surveys indicate a near 10% increase in approval ratings over the last several months. In July, DeSantis sat at 45% but a new report from March revealed an approval rating of 53%.
The segment from 60 Minutes making the accusations was noticeably missing from a few reports early this week. Major reports from the program are generally broadcasted across all CBS platforms, but this story was omitted from CBS Evening News and CBS This Morning after heavy backlash from Republicans and Democrats alike.