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DeSantis says he regrets not speaking out ‘much louder’ against Trump’s recommendation to stay home

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Originally Published: 14 JAN 22 16:17 ET Updated: 15 JAN 22 06:14 ET By Steve Contorno, CNN

    (CNN) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said one of his biggest regrets in office was not speaking louder in March 2020, when former President Donald Trump advised the nation to stay home to slow the spread of coronavirus.

DeSantis, a close ally of Trump, said he was involved in the White House’s pandemic response and offered advice to the President. But he was surprised when Trump made the decision that led to much of the US economy shutting down.

“I never thought in February, early March, that (coronavirus) would lead to locking down the country,” the Republican governor told the hosts of the conservative podcast “Ruthless” during an episode recorded Thursday. “I just didn’t. I didn’t think that was on the radar.”

DeSantis blamed “people like” Dr. Anthony Fauci for advising Trump to consider a shutdown. Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, was part of a coronavirus response team that was led by Vice President Mike Pence and included other public health experts. But the decision was Trump’s to make, and DeSantis ultimately followed the White House’s lead, closing Florida schools, government buildings, gyms, bars and restaurant dining rooms and advising Floridians to stay home.

Days before DeSantis’ podcast appearance, Trump seemed to call out the governor during an interview released Tuesday night. Trump described politicians who won’t say if they received a coronavirus booster shot are “gutless.” The quip was viewed as a thinly veiled knock on DeSantis, who declined to share his vaccination status during a December interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo.

“I watched a couple politicians be interviewed and one of the questions was, ‘Did you get a booster?’ Because they had the vaccine and they’re answering like — in other words, the answer is ‘yes’ but they don’t want to say it, because they’re gutless,” Trump told OAN.

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