After reports emerged suggesting that the Biden administration was considering banning domestic travel to Florida, Marco Rubio took to Tucker Carlson Tonight to slam the administration and defend his state’s handling of the pandemic. This comes after 300 cases of the new UK variant being identified within the state, though coronavirus cases as a whole in Florida have been in decline over the past month.
The appearance of the new strain, which is 70 times more contagious than the original Wuhan variant, has led many left-wing politicians to question whether the federal government should intervene in Floridian affairs. However, key Republican figures have doubts as to whether this is really the reason for the Biden administration’s potential move, with some, including Senator Marco Rubio, suggesting that the Biden administration has ulterior motives.
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Last night the young Senator spoke to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson to express his frustration at the potential of an ‘unconstitutional’ travel ban. He pointed out that Florida had remained largely open and had even successfully hosted a Super Bowl without a rise in cases, and criticised the left for trying to impose restrictions which he implied didn’t work.
Many conservatives see Florida as a thorn in the left’s side- despite never having a full lockdown and often going against the advice of Chief Medical Advisor Andrew Fauci, it has remained relatively unscathed by the pandemic. Rubio said, ‘I think they are trying to punish Florida. I think they’re embarrassed by what Florida has done. Florida has embarrassed California, Florida has embarrassed New York’. He refers, of course, to the COVID statistics in liberal states such as New York and California, both of which have imposed very harsh and unpopular measures. Despite these measures, New York has actually struggled with the pandemic, and has the second highest death rate out of all states at 233 per 100,000 people (Florida’s is 131 per 100,000 people).
Whilst California has a slightly lower death rate than Florida at 115 people per 100,000, Governor Gavin Newsom has become a wildly unpopular figure amongst conservatives and liberals alike. Florida’s unemployment rose from around 300,000 at the start of the pandemic to about 1.3 million, before falling back down to roughly 625,000 (or just over double what it was before the pandemic hit). In California, however, unemployment has skyrocketed to over 3 million during the pandemic before falling back down to around 1.5 million, a figure which is still roughly three times that of 2019 and disastrous compared to Florida.
Marco Rubio also used the interview with Carlson to attack the Biden administration’s position of illegal immigrants. Rubio, himself the son of Cuban immigrants, said ‘Tonight if you arrive at the U.S. southern border with a child, you will be allowed entry into the country. But if you are now an American citizen living in Florida, they are going to put some form of restriction in your way? It’s clearly unconstitutional.’ It certainly seems, to Rubio at least, hugely ironic that illegal immigrants will be given more freedom in America than America’s citizens.
In response to the rumors of an impending travel ban, the White House said ‘the administration is continuing to discuss recommendations across the travel space, but no specific decisions are under consideration’. Nonetheless, the seeds of suspicion have already been sowed amongst Florida’s politicians, all of whom are keen to keep the state free and open for business.