Ron DeSantis is “Trump of substance” in response to Ian: Former RNC Spox

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was praised for his handling of Hurricane Ian by a prominent GOP figure on Saturday.

Ian made landfall in western Florida on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane, causing widespread damage and flooding as it swept through the state. CNN’s latest estimate put the death toll from the storm at about 45, although a Florida sheriff estimated the true death toll could be “in the hundreds.”

In the months leading up to the storm, DeSantis made a name for himself as one of the country’s most high-profile Republican leaders in Democratic-run areas like , through controversial culture-war laws like the Don’t Say Gay law and his recent stunts involving migrants Flown at Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. These moves come as DeSantis is widely expected to run for president in 2024, making him the most prominent hypothetical candidate outside of former President Donald Trump.

Despite his antagonism with Democrats, DeSantis has reached out to the Biden administration over the past week to discuss post-hurricane relief efforts for the state. Doug Heye, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee (RNC), told The Hill on Saturday that his ability to work with Democratic leadership while opposing it makes for a favorable comparison between the Florida governor and Trump.

ron desantis hurricane ian handling
Above is Ron DeSantis at a political event in May. The Florida governor has been praised by a former RNC spokesman for his handling of Hurricane Ian alongside the Biden administration.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“DeSantis shows — while the process is still ongoing — that he can play both the political culture warrior and the responsible governor of the entire state,” Heye told the outlet.

The former RNC spokesman went further by praising the governor compared to the former president and calling DeSantis a “trump card with substance.”

On Thursday at FEMA headquarters in Washington, DC, President Joe Biden said that he “agreed to the governor’s recent request for an expedited declaration of a major catastrophe. That means the federal government will cover 100 percent of the cost of debris removal and any costs that the state has to shoulder — commit and expend to save lives.”

When asked by a reporter about his relationship and conversation with the Republican governor, Biden said it was “very good.”

“He complimented me. He thanked me for the immediate response we had. He told me how much he appreciated it. He said he’s very pleased with what’s going on,” the president said. “This isn’t about … anything to do with our political differences. It’s about saving lives, homes and businesses. That’s what this is about.”

news week has reached out to Trump’s office for comment.

DeSantis’ tactics in dealing with Hurricane Ian did not go untested, with some citing alleged hypocrisy compared to his previous stances in similar situations. In 2013, DeSantis opposed using federal funds to help New York, a consistently Democratic-run state, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. DeSantis, at the time a recently elected congressman representing Florida’s 6th District, voted against an aid funding bill on one of his first days in office, saying the move was fiscally irresponsible, local news station WUSA 9 News reported Thursday.

As reported by CNN, DeSantis has also urged Florida residents to heed local officials’ orders and directions regarding the storm. This is in contrast to his previous comments urging residents to disregard COVID-19 restrictions set by local leaders. The DeSantis office downplayed the comparison, calling such pandemic safety measures “overkill.”

Even so, Heye said the governor’s cooperation with the White House could help endear him to voters.

“Voters have a reasonable expectation that governors and presidents from different parties must work together in times of crisis,” Heye added. “Should either party fail to do so, they may be criticized for not doing their job when voters are really in distress. That’s a much bigger problem than a critique of essentially ‘You’ve done the job of representing all voters too well.'” Ron DeSantis is “Trump of substance” in response to Ian: Former RNC Spox

Rick Schindler

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