Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) spoke Friday about the testy exchange he had with an audience member at a press conference the previous day, claiming his arguments were “outrageous.”
“It’s just outrageous to take an incident that’s really been a gut punch to our state as well as to the Jacksonville community and to try to leverage that as a political cudgel to use against somebody that you disagree with politically,” DeSantis argued in an interview on Fox News.
“I am not going to sit there and stand for that,” he said. “I am not going to let anyone impugn me in that way. And we will fight back.”
His comments come after an unidentified audience member shouted during a Thursday press conference that the Florida governor was responsible for the recent racist shooting in Jacksonville, Fla., that left three Black people dead.
The audience member also accused DeSantis, who is also a 2024 presidential candidate, of enacting policies “that hurt people like myself and the people that I love,” including his children.
“You have allowed weapons to fill the street into immature, hateful people that have caused the deaths of the people who were murdered a few weeks ago,” he said.
The governor shot back on Friday, claiming the audience member’s issue was politically motivated and that he had nothing to do with the Jacksonville shooting.
“I think it shows, you know, part of the problem with our society that people would stoop to that level,” he said. “We can have disagreements on issues, we can even be heated on issues, but to take some nutjob and to try to act like we were a part of that is absolutely absurd.”
DeSantis has condemned the Jacksonville gunman for what authorities described as a “racially motivated” shooting.
“This shooting, based on the manifesto they discovered from the scumbag that did this, was racially motivated,” the governor said in a video message after the incident. “He was targeting people based on their race. That is totally unacceptable.”
But DeSantis’s exchange with the audience member was not the first time he faced criticism following the attack. Despite his words, the governor was met with boos while he attended a vigil for the victims of the shooting, with one in the crowd yelling, “He don’t care.”
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