The news that Casey DeSantis, the wife of Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, had been diagnosed with breast cancer was met by an outpouring of sympathy from Democrats and Republicans alike — but was also greeted with sick jubilation and mockery from the darker corners of social media.
Democratic Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is running to unseat DeSantis in next year’s gubernatorial election, tweeted: “Our hearts are with Florida’s First Lady Casey DeSantis and her family. We are all praying for you!”
After repeating the message in Spanish, Fried fired off a preemptive warning to would-be trolls.
“If you choose to reply to this tweet, please show some empathy,” she said. “Casey is a mother of three and deserves our support in this difficult fight.”
Her warning appeared to come in response to several politically motivated nasty tweets about the Florida first lady’s battle.
Our hearts are with Florida's First Lady Casey DeSantis and her family. We are all praying for you! 💜🙏
— Nikki Fried (@NikkiFried) October 4, 2021
“I feel sorry for Casey DeSantis, not only to get such a horrible diagnosis but also face the prospect of Ron DeSantis choosing between (a) helping protect his wife’s immune system by wearing a mask; and (b) pandering to anti-maskers for his voracious political ambitions,” tweeted Canadian comedian Deven Green, who often performs as the character Mrs. Betty Bowers, “America’s Best Christian”.
“I wish Casey DeSantis well,” wrote another Twitter user claiming to be a “Front line ICU MP”. “I hope she is smart enough not to allow her husband treat her breast cancer with Ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine.”
“Gonna be really hard to offer thoughts and prayers to Casey DeSantis, wife of a man who botched a pandemic that led to the deaths of 55,000+ Floridians,” chimed in another user with the moniker “Death Metal Viking”.
“My prayers go out to the families of the 50,000+ Floridians who have died from Covid because of desantis [sic],” still another Twitter user wrote. “Sorry I’m not wasting them on his wife”.
Gonna be really hard to offer thoughts and prayers to Casey DeSantis, wife of a man who botched a pandemic that led to the deaths of 55,000+ Floridians.
— 💀DeathMetalViking💀 (@DeathMetalV) October 4, 2021
Some of the more conspiracy-minded social media denizens wondered whether the 41-year-old’s diagnosis was genuine.
“Not sure if it’s a gimmick for pity votes or not,” one wrote in response to a CNN story about the news.
“Can someone check if this is true,” added another user, “cause maybe he’s just looking for some sympathy and extra attention for his presidential run, when his wife miraculously beats the odds and becomes a survival story. When it comes to scum like Ron, I don’t give him the benefit of the doubt.”
In a second tweet, the same user wrote: “If his wife does in fact have cancer, I hope she gets the medical treatment that people like Ron try to keep everyone else from having.”
Casey DeSantis, a former TV host, married her husband Ron in 2010. The couple have three children aged four and under.
“Casey is the centerpiece of our family and has made an impact on the lives of countless Floridians through her initiatives as First Lady,” the governor said in a statement. “As she faces the most difficult test of her life, she will have not only my unwavering support but the support of our entire family, as well as the prayers and well wishes from Floridians across our state.”
While Democratic leaders in the Sunshine State have harshly criticized DeSantis for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic — most notably his insistence that school districts not impose mask mandates — they put politics aside after word of the Florida first lady’s diagnosis circulated Monday.
Florida Democratic Party Chairman Manny Diaz said in a statement that he was “sorry” to hear of Casey DeSantis’ diagnosis and called it “the type of news all families dread hearing.”
“As the DeSantis family goes through this difficult time, my thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. DeSantis, and I wish her a prompt and successful recovery,” Diaz added.