Ron DeSantis Gambles on Vaccine Grievance

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (Phelan M. Ebenhack for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis isn’t running for president yet, but try telling Republican voters that. Several polls last week found DeSantis in a remarkably strong early position, leading former President Donald Trump by double digits in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup. 

Those results didn’t come out of nowhere. DeSantis’ star has been rising for years, thanks in large part to a reputation for canny political positioning; he has managed to maintain his MAGA bona fides without alienating nearly so many voters in the middle as did Trump.

But DeSantis is now moving farther and farther into one area Trump largely avoided: conspiracy-mongering about the COVID-19 vaccines.

During a roundtable with Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo last Tuesday on the topic of the alleged harms caused by COVID-19 shots, DeSantis concluded with a surprise announcement: He had asked the Florida Supreme Court to call a grand jury to “investigate any and all wrongdoing in Florida with respect to COVID-19 vaccines.”

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