Hosts of MSNBC's Morning Joe took Republican Ron DeSantis to task Thursday morning for avoiding Florida reporters and not yet having a full-formed platform for his gubernatorial campaign.
"Too early. Too soon," joked host Joe Scarborough. "Only been in Congress three terms. Only ran against a guy who was one of the most qualified public figures in all of Florida to be governor."
In a 10-minute segment, Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinski discussed a report from the Tampa Bay Times on DeSantis' recent visit to Tampa. The DeSantis campaign allowed reporters and TV crews in for a photo-op at La Teresita Restaurant, but ushered them out as the candidate discussed Florida issues with locals.
The DeSantis campaign also cancelled a planned interview with the Times because he needed more time to put together his platform before taking questions.
Scarborough, who represented northwest Florida in Congress as a Republican from 1995 to 2001, panned DeSantis for not being prepared to discuss his ideas less than two months to go before an election. He said it was especially stark considering the east coast's ongoing hurricane emergency and the constant threat of storms Florida faces.
"What were Republicans in that state —have they not been through as many hurricanes as I've been through in Florida to pick a guy who ran a joke of a campaign and doesn't know what the hell he's doing right now," Scarborough said.
"This isn't even about winning or losing. But if he wins, what's going to happen the first time a Cat 4 comes barreling down," Scarborough added.
"He's going to take some time off to flesh out the issues," Brzezinski quipped.
DeSantis won his primary against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — who Scarborough talked about glowingly, as he did former Gov. Jeb Bush — in part by avoiding local media and Florida topics while appearing often on Fox News to discuss national issues and the Russia investigation.
His campaign had indicated that would change in the general election. To some degree, it has. On Wednesday, DeSantis rolled out his environmental platform while touring the Everglades with "Alligator Ron" aka Ron Bergeron.
But outside the event, DeSantis wouldn't answer questions from Politico about comments made by conservative David Horowitz, whose conference DeSantis has attended on several occasions. The Washington Post reported this week that Horowitz has said African Americans owe their freedom to white people, among other provocative, racially charged statements.
Politico tried to ask if DeSantis agreed with those statements but "couldn't get the question off to DeSantis before he interrupted, filibustered by bashing the Post … and then hustled away into a waiting car," according to the publication.
The race between DeSantis and his opponent, Democrat and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, has been much discussed on national news networks since the Aug. 28 primary.
Fox News hosts have frequently targeted Gillum after his stunning primary victory for his progressive agenda and an ongoing FBI corruption investigation into Tallahassee.