DeSantis to speak in Texas as Florida’s vaccine rollout continues

DeSantis did not widely publicize his appearance before today.
Gov. Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantis [ The Florida Channel ]
Published Jan. 14, 2021|Updated Jan. 14, 2021

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis has a lot on his plate these days. He’ll be telling a crowd in Texas all about it today.

DeSantis will address the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Policy Orientation in Austin in what’s being billed as a “Keynote Luncheon.” After lunch, DeSantis will meet with the Foundation’s “Visionaries,” a distinction given to guests who contribute at least $2,500 annually to the foundation.

The address comes during a time when DeSantis is leading the state through multiple crises. The coronavirus is spreading rapidly through Florida, with case totals routinely clocking in the five digits. Health care officials are working round the clock to inject thousands with life-saving coronavirus vaccines. And insurrectionist protests are being planned across the country, including Florida’s Capitol, as Democrat Joe Biden plans to take office in less than a week.

When asked about the conference, a spokeswoman, Meredith Beatrice, sent a statement that listed things DeSantis had done or is doing related to the distribution of the vaccine, none of which answered the questions posed to his office by the Times/Herald. Those questions asked whether the governor will be doing any fundraising, what his itinerary is, whether he’ll be attending the conference in person, and whether it’s appropriate to travel out of state now considering the massive rollout of the vaccine currently underway in Florida.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is one of the most influential conservative think tanks in Texas. Situated just blocks from that state’s Capitol in Austin, its website says it promotes liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise. The institute has gotten donations in the past from a variety of corporate interests, including Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.

At Wednesday’s introductory lunch, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick addressed a crowd of about 120 people. The event was inside, and attendees removed their masks to eat.

It’s unclear if DeSantis plans to do any fundraising during his trip, but even if he doesn’t his appearance should bolster his national political profile among conservatives in a key red state.