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DeSantis says he regrets not speaking out against Trump’s shutdown measures early

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DeSantis, a close Trump ally, said he was involved in the early days of the White House’s pandemic response and offered advice to the president. But he was surprised when Trump made the decision that shut down much of the US economy.

“I never thought in February, early March, that (coronavirus) would lead to the country being locked down,” the Republican governor told hosts of the conservative “Ruthless” podcast during a taped episode Thursday. “I just didn’t. I didn’t think it was on the radar.”

DeSantis blamed “people like” Dr. Anthony Fauci for advising Trump to consider quitting. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, was part of a coronavirus response team led by Vice President Mike Pence and included other public health experts. But the decision was up to Trump, and DeSantis ultimately followed the White House’s lead, closing Florida schools, government buildings, gyms, bars and restaurant dining rooms and advising Floridians to stay home. House.

This isn’t the first time DeSantis has questioned measures taken by the Trump administration to slow the spread of the virus. In November, DeSantis questioned whether the ban on flights from China, the epicenter of the initial outbreak, was effective.

“I was probably the first governor in January 2020 to ask for travel restrictions from China. I supported President Trump when he did that,” DeSantis said. “But we have to take a step back and recognize that these travel restrictions just didn’t work.”

Trump sees the China travel ban as one of the key decision points in his response to the pandemic, and he has maintained it until the end of his presidency.

DeSantis’ remark on Thursday followed reports that Trump privately complained about his former protege’s lack of loyalty. In conversations with allies, previously reported by CNN, Trump expressed annoyance that DeSantis, one of the Republican Party’s most talked about leaders, refused to publicly rule out a 2024 presidential bid if Trump asked for another four-year term.

Indeed, days before DeSantis’ podcast appeared, Trump appeared to call out the Republican governor during an interview published Tuesday night. Trump has described politicians who won’t say if they’ve had a coronavirus booster shot as “heartless.” The joke was seen as a thinly veiled jab at DeSantis, who declined to share his vaccination status during a widely shared December interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo.

“I watched a few politicians being interviewed and one of the questions was, ‘Did you get a callback? Because they had the vaccine and they answer like — in other words, the answer is ‘yes’ but they don’t want to say it, because they don’t have the courage,” said Trump at the OAN.

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