Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) on Tuesday torched Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) after she announced her defiance of the governor’s order for flags to be lowered at half-staff in honor of notoriously racist radio host Rush Limbaugh, who died from lung cancer at age 70 last week.
Appearing on CNN Tuesday morning, Fried — who is the sole Democrat holding statewide office in Florida — excoriated DeSantis for issuing the order in honor of Limbaugh as she explained why she views it as a “political prop” by the Florida governor.
“The American flag should not be used, and cannot be used, as a political prop by Gov. DeSantis,” Fried said. “And what he’s doing is bending over backwards to honor a radio host who spent his entire career talking hate speech, and talking bigotry and division and conspiracy theories.”
Fried added that the lowering of flags should symbolize “unity, not division.”
“Raising our standards, not lowering our standards. So we will not be lowering our flags at my department state offices to honor Rush Limbaugh,” Fried said. “And we will not celebrate hate speech. Instead we will celebrate unity and compassion, and that’s also why you’re seeing mayors and local leaders across the state of Florida following my lead on this.”
Asked about her thoughts on the Florida governor’s power to call for state flags to be lowered, Fried replied that the state protocol dictates that the lowering of flags is to honor fallen heroes who have served the country and the state.
“People have, across our history and our country, brave men and women, have fought and died to protect the flag. This is something as a symbol that reflects our patriotism and liberty and all the beautiful things that makes America great,” Fried said. “We should be recognizing those individuals who sacrificed and not those who have created division and spoken bigotry and racist comments for their entire career.”
Fried compared DeSantis’ order to President Biden’s order issued on Monday. Biden ordered the lowering of flags at half-staff for the next five days to honor the more than 500,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19 thus far.
“The President is lowering the flags to recognize the 500,000 individuals in our country who have died because of coronavirus, and memorializing them, and recognizing the sacrifices of their families,” Fried said. “That’s what we should be honoring. And when Gov. DeSantis uses the flag — the American flag — as a prop, it sends a message to the rest of the citizens of our state that that is what he idolizes.”
Watch Fried’s remarks below:
Florida Agriculture Commissioner @nikkifried says she will not lower flags to honor Rush Limbaugh.
— New Day (@NewDay) February 23, 2021