Biden vs. DeSantis battle heating up in shadows of 2024 election
Biden says DeSantis is 'going after Mickey Mouse', while DeSantis blames the president for record inflation and high gas prices.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
President Joe Biden vs. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is a battle already shaping up well ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
In late April, Biden said DeSantis was "going after Mickey Mouse," referring to his effort to dissolve Disney's long-held special tax status. DeSantis and many other Florida Republicans have been publicly critical of Disney's "woke" agenda.
The company took a public stance in opposition to a law DeSantis signed that prohibits school teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity through third grade. Opponents dubbed it the "Don't Say Gay" law.
On Wednesday, Biden held a reception at the White House for LGBTQ Pride Month. He announced an executive order instructing the U.S. Education Department to release a “sample school policy for achieving full inclusion for LGBTQI+ students," which observers viewed as a direct response to Florida's new law.
"I’m about to sign an executive order that directs key federal agencies to protect our communities from those hateful attacks and advance equality for families," the president said.
"My order will use the full force of the federal government to prevent inhumane practices of conversion therapy. This is the first time the federal government is leading a coordinated response against this dangerous, discredited practice."
DeSantis has been a vocal critic of Biden's economic policies and his handling of the COVID pandemic, blaming the president for record inflation and high gas prices during a public event on Thursday. Inflation is at its highest level in 40 years and the average gas price nationally is $5.
"The question is about gas prices and inflation. You know what I could do, if you could give me a time machine to go back to January 2021, we would just do the opposite of what Biden has done, and we'd be in a better spot," said DeSantis. "He's got a lot of chutzpah to attack energy producers, when he campaigned saying he was going to shut down energy production in the United States."
DeSantis said Biden came into office with "really negative policies to try to kneecap American energy production" and that's been a "huge driver as to why we now have gas higher than we have ever seen it before, in my lifetime in this country."
DeSantis argued that Biden has made "a series of policy misjudgments" and that he should "admit he was wrong."
"We need to be energy independent. We need to lead the world in production. We need to get rid of all the roadblocks. We need to make sure people can get permits when it makes sure we can do LNG exports," he said.
The former Florida congressman is also going to bat with Biden over vaccines for children under 5. He emphasized that Florida will not be ordering those vaccines whenever they are approved.
"There is not going to be any state programs that are going to be trying to get COVID jabs to infants, toddlers, and newborns," the Republican governor said at an event on Everglades conservation. "That's not something that we think is appropriate, and so that's not where we are going to be utilizing our resources."
In August 2021, Biden told DeSantis to "get out of the way" when COVID cases began surging again. In response, DeSantis told Biden he is standing in the way. He slammed Biden for allowing the release of thousands of migrants into the U.S. who showed up at the border during the pandemic.
"He's not shutting down the virus. He's helping facilitate it in our country," he said.
In October of 2021, DeSantis announced a lawsuit against Biden's COVID vaccine mandates. He said Florida would make the vaccine available to individuals, but insisted it would be up to them whether or not to take it.
As for 2024, earlier this week DeSantis was asked if he would forgo a run for president if Trump decides to run again.
“Nice try," he replied.