A new line of attack has opened against Florida’s highly successful governor, Ron DeSantis.
In the wake of Hurricane Idalia, a category three storm that caused much damage to north-central Florida at the end of August, DeSantis was basking in the positive, well-deserved media accolades for his leadership during that state crisis.
Having suspended his presidential campaign to manage the emergency, DeSantis was decisive, bold, and reassuring for his home state (which is still reeling from last year’s mega storm, Hurricane Ian).
Even DeSantis’ possible Democratic Party rival for the presidency, Joe Biden, offered kind words for Florida’s governor. However, that goodwill from Biden was short-lived. The Democrats are attacking DeSantis for supposedly playing politics with the hurricane.
You see, despite accepting federal disaster aid for cleaning up after the storm, Florida’s governor took the unusual step of refusing to tour the disaster area with the commander-in-chief.
Ron DeSantis had no choice but to avoid Biden, though.
DeSantis Won’t Let the Media ‘Chris Christie’ Him
Think back to Hurricane Sandy in 2012. That massive storm laid waste to New Jersey and New York. In the wake of the devastation, and in their desperation, then-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie greeted President Barack Obama when he arrived to tour the damage-stricken areas of New Jersey. Obama authorized whatever federal aid Christie needed before he had arrived in New Jersey to tour the affected areas.
When Christie saw Obama, he embraced the forty-fourth president. This was a politically damaging moment in the career of Chris Christie, who was thought of as a potential Republican presidential candidate. That image of Christie gleefully embracing Obama went viral and the former New Jersey has never been able to live it down.
DeSantis would never make the same mistake.
The Democrats are enraged that DeSantis is “playing politics”.
Yet, at no point do the Democrats stop and admit that they, too, are playing politics. Their political play is much worse than what DeSantis is doing. The Florida governor is necessarily insulating himself from a no-win situation, as he battles former President Donald J. Trump, who currently enjoys a double-digit lead over DeSantis, for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
The last thing that Ron DeSantis needs for himself is a Chris Christie-like image of him embracing—or even standing side-by-side with—President Biden.
Joe Biden is Playing Politics, Too
But the Biden Campaign’s reason for wanting an image of the forty-sixth president touring the storm damage with DeSantis is to steal the limelight away from the Florida governor.
DeSantis’ handling of the storm was so masterful that Biden wants to be able to lay claim to part of the successful response.
This is because the Biden team is painfully aware of just how bad their boss’ performance has been—particularly in the wake of natural disasters.
Most Americans still believe that President Biden fell asleep while at an event commemorating the survivors of the recent, horrific Hawaii wildfires.
Biden’s presence at that event on the disaster-stricken Pacific island happened only after the president delayed going to Hawaii for several weeks, while he vacationed on Rehoboth Beach, Del., and then at Lake Tahoe.
When Biden finally deigned to appear on Hawaii, he looked flustered, uncomfortable, and he spoke dismissively of the plight of Hawaiians in the wake of the devastating wildfires there. Two weeks after that awful presidential outing to disaster-torn Hawaii, the White House is still dealing with the public fallout.
In Florida, thanks to Governor DeSantis’ leadership and preparation, the devastation was nowhere near what Hawaii endured. But the successful disaster response happened far away from Washington, D.C., and Joe Biden.
Thus, the Biden team wanted to use the Florida governor as a prop in their public rehabilitation campaign of President Biden. DeSantis would not allow for them to use him as such a political tool.
Denying Biden a PR Victory is a Win for DeSantis’ Campaign
What a funny thing to accuse Governor DeSantis of doing: playing politics with a natural disaster that afflicted his state. DeSantis responded dutifully and resolutely. Everyone knows that the storm could have been much more devastating, had the government of Florida not been prepared.
Since the governor was ready, the state did well.
Resources were deployed in a timely manner and where they were most needed. Of course Biden wants to enjoy some credit for it. But he needed DeSantis to be present in order for him to share that success.
Both DeSantis and Biden were playing politics with the disaster. It’s just that DeSantis was much better at it.
Because of that, Ron DeSantis can reap the rewards of a successful disaster response without the headache of trying to explain why he welcomed Joe Biden and allowed for him to take credit for something Biden had next to nothing to do with.
Republicans should be applauding DeSantis and learning from his excellent example.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (Encounter Books), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert occasionally serves as a Subject Matter Expert for various organizations, including the Department of Defense. He can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.
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