Florida governor Ron DeSantis took aim at Donald Trump during Wednesday’s Republican debate for failing to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, and for allowing "deep state bureaucrats" to impose lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic.
"You don’t take somebody like Fauci, and coddle him," DeSantis said. "You bring Fauci in, you sit him down, and you say ‘Anthony, you are fired,’" continued DeSantis, invoking the former president’s trademark "you’re fired" tagline.
DeSantis has made his hands-off approach to the pandemic a centerpiece of his campaign. The Florida governor reopened businesses and schools earlier than most other states and resisted pressure from Fauci and others to impose vaccine and mask mandates.
"In Florida, we led the country out of lockdown," said DeSantis. "We kept our state free and open and let me tell you this, as your president, I will never let the deep state bureaucrats lock you down."
DeSantis has taken aim before at Fauci, who retired last year. He has said he would like to "grab that little elf and chuck him across the Potomac."