On Friday, Chris Hayes devoted some of “All In” to the flailing GOP primary campaign of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. And while Hayes did make sure to highlight how off-putting and inept he’s been ever since declaring himself a candidate — and how comically terrible his polling is — the MSNBC host focused on the much more terrible effects on real people DeSantis’ campaign has actually had.
Hayes noted that almost all of DeSantis’ decision-making about COVID-19, which includes the full embrace of deadly antivaxxer lies, has led directly to the death of more than 80,000 people — this is not an exaggeration. And so, Hayes argued, while it’s “easy to laugh” at DeSantis, his actions “cost actual lives.”
Watch the whole clip, which includes a discussion with former Florida Republican congressman David Jolly.
“Do you remember Ron DeSantis? That name ring a bell? Republican primary voters do,” Hayes began after playing a clip of some of DeSantis’ more cringe campaign moments. “And the memories are not particularly fond ones. He’s currently pulling in a whopping 6% of primary voters in New Hampshire polls. Number so low, he skipped the state and went straight to South Carolina, where he’s polling a much more robust 7%.”
“It’s gotten so bad that after his second place finish in Iowa, the top DeSantis Super PAC named, somewhat ironically, Never Back Down, laid off much of its staff in some big states,” Hayes continued, noting that it’s “hard to believe now, but there was a time when this was the far right Florida governor’s race to lose.”
Hayes noted how at the beginning of 2023 — before DeSantis had declared his candidacy and before most voters heard what he sounds like and saw how he acts — “he was even beating Donald Trump head to head, by double digits in the polls. A huge lead to go with a huge campaign chest, $150 million raised by last summer.”
Hayes noted that “the more people heard Ron DeSantis, saw Ron DeSantis, interacted with Ron DeSantis, the less they liked him,” dubbing his political efforts a “really, truly terrible campaign” that “squandered those millions.”
“But I have to point out that worse than that, there is, I think, plausibly an actual death toll associated with the DeSantis campaign for president. One of his key plans in this race was to be Trumpier than Donald Trump. And a big part of that strategy was running to Trump’s right on the COVID pandemic measures which included trashing the vaccine. The Trump vaccine, and he’s still doing it,” Hayes explained.
Hayes then played several clips of DeSantis spewing utter falsehoods about vaccines, and noted that in addition to these “dangerously false” claims, he also yelled at children who wore masks. Hayes also reminded viewers that DeSantis appointed a full-on anti-vaccines crank as the Surgeon General of Florida, who has since lied to citizens about various aspects of vaccines.
“It all had a tangible effect on the health of residents in America’s third biggest state,” Jayes continued, laying out the data showing just how bad Florida has done in the COVID era.
“Its death rate in the delta wave topped out at nearly two times the rest of America,” Hayes said. “87,000 Floridians have died of COVID on DeSantis’ watch according to the New York Times. And for what, 6% of New Hampshire Republican votes? It’s easy to laugh at DeSantis and his terrible presidential campaign, but it cost more than $150 million and his dignity. It also cost actual lives.”
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