TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — As tropical storm Idalia intensifies in the Gulf of Mexico, Ron DeSantis told reporters Sunday that he is “locked in” on governing the state through a potential disaster that could affect north Florida as early as Wednesday.
MANAGING MULTIPLE CRISES
Wrapping up a 15-county bus tour through Iowa on Saturday, DeSantis picked up endorsements from 26 local officials, including sheriffs, farmers and veterans. On Saturday evening, the governor’s office shared a video of DeSantis condemning the violence in Jacksonville as “totally unacceptable,” calling the shooter a “coward.”
But DeSantis was back in Tallahassee on Sunday, preemptively declaring a state of emergency in Florida as the storm approached. As of Monday morning, the governor’s executive order names 46 counties under a state of emergency as they prepare for possible impact.
“YOU’VE GOT TO BE PRESENT”
A national spotlight will likely follow DeSantis as he manages the two high-profile crises that could shape voters’ views of his leadership skills. The governor recently criticized Joe Biden’s response to the Maui fires and his decision to wait nearly two weeks to visit the island and pledge federal assistance.
“Biden was on the beach while those people were suffering,” DeSantis said at the RNC debate in Milwaukee. “He was asked about it and he said no comment. Are you kidding me?”
“As somebody that’s handled disasters in Florida, you’ve got to be activated,” DeSantis added. “You’ve got to be there. You’ve got to be present. You’ve got to be helping people who are doing this.”
DeSantis canceled a town hall event in South Carolina scheduled for Monday morning and his keynote address at the 12th annual Faith & Freedom BBQ, hosted by South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan – Casey DeSantis will attend in his place, according to campaign press secretary Bryan Griffin.
When asked Sunday where DeSantis planned to be this week, the governor said: “I’m here. I am here.”
A TEST OF LEADERSHIP
Hurricanes and natural disasters often put the governor of Florida in a crucible that will test both their ability to respond and offer consolation during a time of immense devastation for some Floridians. DeSantis was elected just after Hurricane Michael ripped through Florida’s panhandle and the governor continues to oversee that region’s recovery.
Last September, DeSantis regularly held news conferences to offer details and updates on Hurricane Ian’s path and the ongoing rescue and recovery missions. He also put aside any political rivalry with Joe Biden. He appeared alongside the president to assure local residents that Florida was working with FEMA and the federal government to assist victims.
FEMA later denied the state’s request for emergency funding, prompting DeSantis to announce that the state of Florida would provide millions in emergency repair relief to homes damaged by Hurricane Ian.
“We’re not just gonna sit there and take no for an answer,” DeSantis said in December. “We want to cut through bureaucracy. We want to bring relief to impacted Floridians regardless of whether FEMA wants to be a part of that.”