Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has released a new line of merchandise in the leadup to the 2022 gubernatorial race taking aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci — selling T-shirts and beer koozies that read, “Don’t Fauci My Florida.”
DeSantis’ campaign team rolled out the merch earlier this week, along with flags and hats that read, “Keep Florida Free,” and other T-shirts that say, “Love My Gov.”
It’s DeSantis’ latest rebuke of President Biden’s chief medical adviser and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who’s become the face of the federal government’s response to the pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, DeSantis — who’s been lauded by Republicans for his handling of the crisis and floated as a potential 2024 presidential candidate — positioned himself as a vocal opponent of lockdown measures.
He refused to issue a statewide mask mandate and aggressively reopened Florida’s economy last fall while many other states remained shut down.
Last month, when COVID-19 cases in the state plateaued at the lowest level Florida had seen since last spring, DeSantis said the state was doing so well economically because he did not follow Fauci’s advice.
“We’re going to end up probably having like $10 million in reserve once the new budget takes effect,” DeSantis said. “That would not have been possible if we had followed Fauci. Instead, we followed freedom. And that’s the reason Florida is doing better.”
However, the rollout of the new merchandise comes as the Sunshine State sees a flare-up in new COVID-19 cases.
The state saw nearly 24,000 new cases the week of July 9, more than twice as many as just two weeks earlier, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
The rise in new infections has coincided with the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant and a slowdown in the number of people willing to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
Many Democrats and liberal commentators criticized the merchandise.
“DeSantis is a well-educated crackpot with no allegiance to our country, his constituency or the truth,” former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said on Twitter.
MSNBC host Joy Reid called DeSantis an “ignorant ghoul,” according to Newsweek, and Ana Violeta Navarro-Cárdenas of “The View” called the merchandise “freaking stupid.”