ORLANDO — Candidates rarely admit being wrong about anything.
It’s even more rare for a candidate in a Republican primary to say he was wrong and former President Barack Obama was right. But it happened during Saturday night’s Florida Family Policy Council dinner when moderator Frank Luntz asked U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who’s running in a GOP primary for governor against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, to provide an example of a time he’s changed his mind about something.
“Actually, I think the one time that I was wrong in the Congress was when we had the breakout of Ebola and I thought we’ve just got to shut everything down, we can’t take any risks,” DeSantis said of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and concerns about its spread to the U.S.
“Obama didn’t do that and I criticized him a lot for doing that. A lot of my Republican colleagues criticized him for doing that but, you know, I look back at it – it was handled well,” DeSantis said. “I was just wrong about that. I think that the way the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and some of the folks in government handled it was actually an example of government getting the job done. So I’m totally willing to just be honest and admit if I call it wrong. Just admit that you were wrong and people appreciate that. Because we’re going to make mistakes in this line of work, that’s just the bottom line.”
Luntz put the question to Putnam differently, asking him about longtime Republican control in Tallahassee and whether there were issues the GOP has gotten wrong.
Putnam, who as agriculture commissioner is a member of the Florida Cabinet, said he’d like a “do-over” on the way the 2014 dismissal of Florida Department of Law Enforcement head Gerald Bailey was handled by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet. He also said the Cabinet should hold more meetings outside Tallahassee to better connect with citizens.
And Putnam addressed the Cabinet’s handling of the restoration of rights to felons who have completed their sentences.
“When you look at the issues around the restoration of rights I have said that nonviolent felons ought to have a faster track than violent felons. First-time offenders perhaps. But I support what we have done with Gov. Scott and Attorney General (Pam) Bondi with having the victims’ influence matter,” Putnam said.