DeSantis faces big moment as Ian bears down on Florida

As Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis faces a pivotal moment that could make or break his gubernatorial and presidential ambitions.

The hope for his supporters is that he won’t get blasted like former President W. Bush, whose response to Hurricane Katrina turned out to be problematic.

Remember this doozy?

Thus far, DeSantis has been busy congenially collaborating with President Joe Biden, despite the two’s known beef and differences.

“The storm … arrives at an especially fraught moment in the Republican’s caustic relationship with the Democratic White House. It was just days ago that President Joe Biden angrily scorned DeSantis for sending migrants from the border to Martha’s Vineyard as ‘un-American’ and ‘reckless.’ DeSantis shot back that Biden’s immigration policies were causing ‘huge damage to our country,'” CNN notes.

“Still, Biden spoke Tuesday evening with DeSantis. … Both DeSantis and Biden have insisted that their respective governments are collaborating as planned in the days leading up to Ian’s arrival. DeSantis said he is already working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Biden told reporters Tuesday his administration was ‘on alert and in action to help the people of Florida.'”

The real test for DeSantis will come once Hurricane Ian makes landfall late Wednesday.

As of Wednesday morning, Hurricane Ian had strengthened to a Category 4 storm with the potential to cause catastrophic damage to the communities it hits.

The good news was that DeSantis was doing his part to save lives.

“Gov. Ron DeSantis — who is expected to hold an emergency briefing in just a few minutes at the state operations center in Tallahassee — warned shortly before midnight that time had just about run out for people to evacuate ahead of the storm. Roughly 2.5 million Floridians had been urged by local authorities to leave their homes. Earlier in the evening, DeSantis said ‘this thing’s the real deal’ and a major storm,” Politico reported Wednesday morning.

The governor’s largest challenge, according to political communications expert Tobe Berkovitz of Boston University, will be expressing empathy for the victims of the storm.

“Any politician in this type of emergency situation has to show that he or she cares about the people of their state, can empathize and can understand the problems that [they] are facing or are about to face,” Berkovitz said to The Hill.

“It’s very, very important. I think probably DeSantis wants to show firmness and confidence, but you also have to show compassion and a human-ness,” he added.

The great news is that if DeSantis handles Hurricane Ian well, it could turn him into an even more hurricane-like political force than before.

“Everybody is looking at this as an important moment for DeSantis,” Susan MacManus of the University of South Florida said to The Hill.

And thus far, he’s meeting the moment head-on.

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Vivek Saxena

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