American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten walked back her comments on Wednesday after tweeting that there would be "millions" of deaths in the Sunshine State for the "ignorance" of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis' campaign merchandise includes items with the phrase, "Don't Fauci My Florida," a clear jab at Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden. Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been a prominent figure throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Weingarten lambasted the Republican governor on Wednesday.
"Disgusting. Millions of Floridians are going to die for Ron DeSantis' ignorance and he's choosing to profit from it. He doesn't care about Floridians; he cares about furthering his own cruel agenda," she tweeted.
Some Twitter users ridiculed her claim. And later Wednesday, Weingarten said that she should not have exaggerated by saying that there would be "millions" of deaths.
"You are all probably right… I shouldn't have said millions.. I should have just said DeSantis was wrong to do this.. Fauci is an amazing public servant. He shouldn't be mocked. But I shouldn't engage in that kind of hyperbole either. My bad…" Weingarten wrote.
One person fired back in response to Weingarten's tweet: "But without hyperbole and a little dash of fear, where would @AFTunion be?"
Damon Linker of The Week welcomed Weingarten's decision to walk back her original remarks: "Thank you for this. I was one of your critics on the hyperbole. Much appreciated."
The COVID-19 death toll for the U.S. currently stands a bit higher than 608,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
DeSantis, who previously served as a U.S. congressman, is a popular figure on the political right.
While former President Donald Trump trounced all of the other individuals listed on a recent CPAC Dallas straw poll that asked who people would vote for in a 2024 GOP presidential primary, DeSantis earned 21%, coming in second to Trump who received a whopping 70%.
On another list of candidates that did not include former President Trump, DeSantis crushed the competition, earning 68%, with second place going to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who received just 5%.