As Hurricane Idalia savaged Florida, President Joe Biden struck a rare note of unity with Gov. Ron DeSantis in a press conference.
“Gov. DeSantis is also running for president. You are running for re-election. Do you sense any politics in your conversations with him about this issue?” a reporter asked, setting Biden up for a hit. “No, believe it or not,” the president started. “This is not about politics. It’s about taking care of the people of the state.” Biden added that he trusts DeSantis to navigate his state through the storm.
The president set aside partisanship, even though he and DeSantis have been trading barbs, with the latter recently vowing to “send Joe Biden back to his basement,” because that’s what should happen during a crisis. Unfortunately, however, the former president, Donald Trump, proved incapable of that.
The day before Idalia made landfall in Florida, as DeSantis braced the state, Trump posted a video of himself talking about his poll numbers and attacking “DeSanctimonious.” Earlier in the week, Trump tried to start a bogus rumor that the governor was secretly planning to drop out of the presidential primary.
As the Category 4 hurricane descended upon The Sunshine State, Trump frantically tried to distract from how competently DeSantis was handling things by flooding social media with videos of himself. He posted more than 30 clips to Truth Social on Wednesday alone. It was an obviously desperate response to DeSantis getting the one thing Trump craves: good press.
Speaking with CNN, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell praised how well DeSantis had prepared Florida for the storm. “I gotta tell you, the amount of mutual aid the State of Florida brought in to support power restoration is significant,” she said. Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat, also praised DeSantis in an interview with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins. “The governor is doing a good job on emergency management, and he has since he came into office,” he said.
When a reporter finally asked him on Wednesday about Trump’s silence amid the hurricane, DeSantis replied, “Not my concern. My concern is protecting the people of Florida, being ready to go.”
Trump surrogates and influencers were also largely mum, even though several of them live in Florida. Of course, they couldn’t praise him. That would mean crossing the man in Mar-a-Lago. The most devoted of the flock went on the attack. Failed Republican candidate Laura Loomer suggested DeSantis had staged power issues caused by the storm during a press briefing. Trump recently considered making Loomer a formal part of his campaign and now shares her content regularly.
Trump and his allies in Florida are currently benefiting from DeSantis’ good governance. And, like Trump, they hate it. Trump hates it so much that he finally swung at DeSantis on Thursday.
First, in a rambling Truth Social post, Trump claimed the governor had agreed to dramatically raise the electricity bills of Floridians, cited polls, and called his leadership a “shame.”
Utility bills have climbed in recent times across the country. One analysis found they rose by about 16 percent nationwide from August 2021 to August 2022. However, data from the Federal Energy Information Administration ranked Florida’s electricity rates at the lower end of the spectrum in the U.S., and though Trump wouldn’t care if he knew it, state regulators approved a plan to lower the bills of Florida Power & Light customers in July. That followed an initial rate decrease in May.
Trump also amplified a bogus story about a scam political action committee supposedly run by a DeSantis ally. It was swiftly debunked. Every aspect of it proved untrue, including the relationship between the con artist behind it and DeSantis, which didn’t exist. Trump followed up with more clips of himself talking about polls and name-calling the governor as he grappled with Idalia.
Trump wasn’t grasping at straws in his most recent lashing out at DeSantis – he was grasping at thin air, seething in anger that, for a moment, he was not the center of attention, and the country got a glimpse of real leadership.