PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis had strong words for President Joe Biden during a news conference Wednesday in Panama City.
Biden on Tuesday criticized DeSantis and other Republican governors who have blocked mask mandates in their states.
"If you're not going to help, at least get out of the way of people trying to do the right thing," Biden said.
At the conclusion of his news conference, DeSantis responded.
"Joe Biden suggests that if you don't do lockdown policies then you should 'get out of the way.' But let me tell you this, if you're coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I'm standing in your way," DeSantis said. "I'm not going to let you get away with it."
DeSantis accused Biden of accelerating the pandemic through lax security at the U.S.-Mexico border.
"He's imported more virus from around the world by having a wide open southern border. You have hundreds of thousands of people pouring across every month. And it's not just from Mexico. In fact, it's rarely from Mexico. You have over a hundred different countries where people are pouring through. Not only are they letting them through, they're then farming them out all across our communities across this country. Putting them on planes, putting them on buses," DeSantis said. "Do you think they're worried about COVID for that? Of course not. So he's facilitating... who knows what new variants are out there? But I can tell you whatever variants are around the world, they're coming across that southern border. And so he's not shutting down the virus, he's helping to facilitate it in our country."
DeSantis also criticized Biden's endorsement of New York City's move to require vaccinations to dine indoors or go to the gym.
"Joe Biden also believes that vaccinations should be mandated by force of government and that you should have to show vaccination status to be able to participate in society," DeSantis said. "He wants that, but yet if you want to vote, he thinks it's too much of a burden to show a picture I.D. when you're voting. So no voter I.D., but have to show your medical papers just to be able to live an every day life? Give me a break. So I think the question is: we can either have a free society or we can have a bio-medical security state. And I can tell you, Florida, we're a free state."
DeSantis closed his statements with a challenge for Biden.
"Why don't you do your job? Why don't you get this border secure?" DeSantis said. "And until you do that, I don't want to hear a blip about COVID from you."