Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has shifted his focus from the 2024 presidential campaign trail as Floridians deal with a horrific tragedy and a tropical storm heads toward the Gulf Coast, threatening to land as a Category 3 hurricane.
“In the face of the tragedy in Jacksonville and the impending major hurricane, Ron DeSantis is focused on leading his state through these challenging moments,” Bryan Griffin, press secretary for the Republican governor’s presidential campaign, told The Daily Signal in a statement Monday.
A white suspect gunned down three black people Saturday in a Dollar General store in the Newtown neighborhood of Jacksonville. The shooter used a weapon emblazoned with a swastika, The Associated Press reported. The shooter had sent a suicide note and racist writings to his father, revealing his motive.
DeSantis condemned the shooter as a “major league scumbag,” condemning as “totally unacceptable” the targeting of people “based on their race.”
Griffin noted that the governor “attended a community prayer vigil and committed additional funding to Florida [historically black colleges and universities] for added security.”
Legacy media outlets like The Associated Press highlighted a few “boos” from the crowd.
DeSantis is also gearing up for the landfall of Tropical Storm Idalia, which meteorologists expect to strengthen into a hurricane later Monday. Experts predict the storm will make landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast starting Tuesday as a Category 3 storm. Idalia appears headed toward Florida’s Big Bend, a natural, storm surge-prone divot along the coast that stretches from Tampa to just south of Tallahassee.
Griffin said the governor is “now at the helm of Florida’s hurricane response and is working with local officials across the state to do everything necessary to ensure Florida is fully prepared.”
“This is the strong leadership in times of crisis that Americans can expect from a President DeSantis,” the press secretary added.
Former President Donald Trump enjoys a substantial lead over DeSantis, polling at 53% to DeSantis’ 13% in national polls, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. DeSantis polls better—at 17.2%—in Iowa’s first presidential contest. There, Trump leads with 43.2%.