Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) – who claimed last week that Republicans "prolonged" the COVID-19 pandemic and caused vacations to be canceled – was caught maskless indoors while visiting in the red state of Florida.
The Daily Mail published photos of a casually dressed Swalwell sitting in the lobby of the Loews Miami Beach Hotel without a mask, holding his infant son while speaking to a woman.
Swalwell – who has fully supported strict COVID-19 protocols in California – lashed out at the publication for exposing him not wearing a face mask while indoors.
He tweeted, "They got me! Maskless, juggling a baby and a coffee while meeting with a Congolese queen. Pulitzer please!"
"Funny they didn’t use this picture in their headline, taking a cup of coffee to my mouth," Swalwell said on Wednesday. "And thanks @DailyMail for not blurring out Hank’s face. He’s too damn cute!"
Swalwell's office gave a statement on his trip to Florida.
"The Congressman was in the Sunshine State to take official meetings and campaign to help Democrats keep the House," Swalwell's office said. "He loves Florida and has dozens of family members there. It is lies from unvaccinated Republicans that are prolonging the pandemic."
Swalwell has repeatedly scapegoated Republicans for the COVID-19 pandemic, including taking potshots at GOP leaders for refusing to enact mask mandates.
"As we end 2021, mired in a deadly pandemic, you should know who has prolonged it," Swalwell wrote last Friday. "THESE GUYS. Republican liars. Your vacation cancelled. Your kids back to virtual learning. And back to masks everywhere. For blame look no farther than #TheseGuys."
Swalwell attacked GOP members in August, "THEY refuse to require masks. THEY LIE about vaccines. Your kids are in danger. Teachers are dying. Why? Because #THOSEGUYS in the Radical Republican Party."
Swalwell – who represents California's 15th Congressional District near San Francisco – has criticized the flexible pandemic management by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
In March 2020, Swalwell called DeSantis "selfish" for not closing Florida beaches.
Christina Pushaw – the press secretary for DeSantis – slammed Swalwell for his getaway to the free state of Florida.
"If Swalwell truly believed his own rhetoric about COVID, Florida, and mandates, he would not take his maskless unvaccinated baby to Loews Hotel South Beach during the Omicron case surge in Miami," Pushaw wrote on Twitter. "It's not hypocrisy. It's hierarchy."
Pushaw added, "I thought Democrats believed Florida is a dystopia of sickness and death."
Swalwell joins fellow Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in ditching face masks to enjoy a retreat in mandate-free Florida. AOC was labeled as a "hypocrite" after she was caught partying maskless at a crowded drag queen bar in Miami on Sunday.
After being called out for alleged hypocrisy, AOC attempted to deflect from the controversy by claiming that she was only criticized by conservatives because "Republicans are mad they can’t date me."
"If I had a dollar for every lockdown politician who decided to escape to Florida over the last two years, I’d be a pretty doggone wealthy man, let me tell you," DeSantis quipped. "I mean, congresspeople, mayors, governors, I mean, you name it."
He added that Floridians often question lockdown-happy leaders who escape to the Sunshine State.
"I think a lot of Floridians say, 'Wait a minute, you’re bashing us because we’re not doing your draconian policies, and yet we’re the first place you want to flee to, to basically be able to enjoy life.'"
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