DeSantis fundraises off Fauci criticism

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisDeSantis's new surgeon general opposes vaccine mandates People close to Trump say he 'wants back' in national spotlight: report Poll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field MORE (R) fundraised off of criticism he received for selling merchandise that mocked the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Government shutdown fears increase as leaders dig in Pfizer results offer hope amid worsening pandemic for children The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration MORE

In an online fundraising appeal the governor released Thursday, DeSantis defended himself, saying that he protected Floridians from getting “Fauci-ed,” keeping state schools open and saving jobs in the state. 

DeSantis knocked the media, claiming they attacked him for “having the backbone to call Fauci out," adding that he refused to follow “an unelected career government bureaucrat” like Fauci. 

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Dr. FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Government shutdown fears increase as leaders dig in Pfizer results offer hope amid worsening pandemic for children The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration MORE demanded the rest of us wear masks, even as he was photographed at a baseball game not wearing one himself," DeSantis said. “Now, he STILL wants to force your children as young as 3 YEARS OLD to wear a mask!”

The Florida governor has been a critic of Fauci throughout the pandemic, often criticizing the public health expert for his recommendations to wear masks. 

DeSantis also accused Fauci of knowing about the origins of the coronavirus outbreak, citing a theory that the virus leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China — the city where the disease was first found. 

At the end of his release, DeSantis shared a link to a donation site urging supporters to “CHOOSE FREEDOM OVER FAUCISM!” 

“I need your help to fight back against Fauci’s media henchmen and to keep Florida free.” DeSantis said. 

The recent fundraising appeal from DeSantis comes after the Florida governor began selling merchandise on his campaign website taking aim at the public health expert. 

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The merchandise included koozies that read "Don't Fauci my Florida" and a flag similar to former President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE's campaign flags that say "Keep Florida Free." 

 

Fauci has been a target for Republicans over the past year and many have criticized him over his recommendations to curb the spread of COVID-19 such as social distancing, mask-wearing and lockdowns.