OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
The woman who is running against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had her chance at the national television spotlight that she says is DeSantis’ biggest advantage over her and she blew it.
What is worse for her is that she blew it on CNN, where she could have asked for a friendlier environment.
But credit to CNN anchor Poppy Harlow who did not pepper her with softball questions but, rather, did her job and asked her pointed questions about Florida’s success under the leadership of Gov. DeSantis.
— Joanna Rodriguez (@joannamrod) June 18, 2021
“Let’s move on to you, let’s focus on you because you’re the one running. You’ve been very critical of Governor DeSantis’ handling of the COVID pandemic. Listen to what he said earlier this spring,” Harlow said before playing a clip of Gov. DeSantis in the spring.
“If you look at what’s happening in South Florida right now, I mean, this place is booming. It would not be booming if it was shut down,” the governor said in the clip, and Harlow noted that he was correct.
“The data backs it up. I mean, Florida has a 4.8 percent unemployment rate, well below the national average, the per capita death rate from COVID-19 is 27th, nowhere near the highest. Do you think he deserves credit for that?” Harlow said.
“No, I don’t think he deserves credit,” Fried said, tho which Harlow asked “Why?”
“He had a hands-off approach to COVID. First of all, there was a lack of transparency during the entire pandemic. He had no information that was coming out of our nursing homes, no information that was coming out of our prisons,” Friend said.
Which could have, and perhaps would have, been good enough in other interviews, but Harlow came at her with more facts.
“He was one of the quickest governors to move to lock down the nursing homes, the opposite of what happened here in New York,” she said.
“Well, the problem was that he also wasn’t giving information. And so it made orders very confusing to the people of our state. Local governments are the ones that stepped up and took leadership here. And then he dismantled their power along the way,” Fried said.
“So the people that really should take credit for what is happening in our state are our local governments, our own local businesses that also stepped up, our food stores that made sure that there was social distancing inside of them, the restaurants that made sure that they had Q.R. codes. So it was private businesses and our local governments that stepped up.
“Ron, the entire time, not only was not empathetic towards the people of our state but was very confusing on the way he was leading our state,” she said.
At this point she could have simply said “Look I’m campaigning against him and I have to say something.” Which is why Harlow called her out again.
“Okay, I hear your points on the messaging. I’m just asking you, Commissioner, since you’re running to be governor of Florida, about the hard data while Ron DeSantis was, and remains governor, and you can’t argue that the unemployment rate in Florida right now is half what it is in New York and California, and it is 27th on the list when you look at COVID deaths.
“My question is, all your criticism of him saying he didn’t shut down soon enough, calling for mask mandates statewide, looking at the data, did he have it right and did you have it wrong,” she said.
Fried went on to say, again, that the credit belongs to the local governments, but if that is going to be her messaging going into the election she is likely headed for a bigger disappointment than this interview was.