Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried said Friday that her “greatest weakness” in the race is her opponent’s access to a national audience.
When Fried lamented Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s (R.) national platform during an appearance on CNN on Friday, anchor Poppy Harlow was quick to point out that Fried was lodging that complaint on a national platform.
“You know, I think my greatest weakness is the fact that right now Ron is on a platform on the national stage and so he’s getting a lot of national PR, but the greatest — but we are going to take that and turn it into a positive,” Fried said.
“You just had about seven or eight minutes on a national platform, CNN,” Harlow responded.
The exchange occurred after Fried spent several minutes criticizing DeSantis’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Harlow noted that Florida “has a 4.8 percent unemployment rate, well below the national average” and that the state’s “per capita death rate from COVID-19 is 27th, nowhere near the highest.”
“Do you think he deserves credit for that?” Harlow asked.
Fried responded that she does not believe the Republican governor deserves credit and claimed that he had taken a “hands-off approach.”
Harlow pushed back, noting that DeSantis was “one of the quickest governors to move to lock down the nursing homes, the opposite of what happened here in New York.”
Yet Fried claimed that DeSantis had not been clear about what people should do. She said local governments and private businesses that issued directives on their own should be given credit.
She also accused DeSantis of being “confusing” and of not being “empathetic.”
Harlow again pushed back: “I’m just asking you, commissioner, since you’re running to be governor of Florida, about the hard data . . . 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?”
“No, and I go back to what the local governments did,” Fried responded. “The governor didn’t do a mask mandate, the local governments did. That is what slowed down the spread of the virus.”