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Governor Ron DeSantis can make his mark after Hurricane Ian

Fort Myers/Immokalee/Washington. The governor of Florida is very busy these days. After Hurricane “Ian” leaves a path of devastation across the US state, Ron DeSantis must prove himself as a crisis manager. Every day, the 44-year-old travels with his wife Casey through the disaster areas, promising help.

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DeSantis is in the middle of an election campaign. The Republican wants to be re-elected as governor in the US election in November. And: For the 2024 presidential election, he is considered the biggest internal party rival to former President Donald Trump. Neither has yet officially announced a presidential candidacy, but observers say it’s only a matter of time.

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Hurricane Ian gives the governor visibility

Natural disasters sometimes determine the political career of politicians, as well-known examples from Germany show. It is still too early to predict the political consequences of the disaster in Florida. But one thing is certain: the hurricane disaster gives the governor visibility – and the opportunity to present himself as a caretaker and crisis manager.

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That’s exactly what DeSantis is doing these days. In the Windbreaker, he hands out water and food to people whose homes have been destroyed, shakes hands and hugs people who have lost everything. Photos of the good deeds adorn his Twitter account. And several times a day the Republican steps in front of microphones to give an overview of the emergency operations and reconstruction: sorted, pragmatic, statesmanlike.

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DeSantis is very polite when dealing with Biden

Party political battles with the Democrats and their number one, US President Joe Biden, deliberately exclude DeSantis from his hurricane mission. When Biden visited Fort Myers, Florida on Wednesday, the two appeared together and met in a decidedly polite manner.

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DeSantis thanks Biden for federal support, Biden thanks DeSantis for his hospitality. And both emphasize how important cooperation is in such a situation. “This is about America coming together,” said the president, whose spokesman had earlier announced that he and DeSantis were “a team” regarding the hurricane. It’s like a verbal truce.

Florida: Hurricane Ian death toll rises

According to official figures, more than 80 people have died after a hurricane hit the US state of Florida.

Florida governor pressures Democrats over immigration policy

Because DeSantis usually does what he can to make life difficult for Biden. With his high-profile action to fly migrants from the US border to the popular and posh holiday island Martha’s Vineyard among Democrats, the Republican was particularly present and even made international news.

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DeSantis was primarily concerned with protesting Biden’s immigration policies. The governors of Texas and Arizona have previously caused a stir with similar actions. Democrats accuse them of using migrants for cheap political PR.

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DeSantis is considered a favorite of the former president

Before his election as Florida governor four years ago, DeSantis was a member of the House of Representatives. When he ran for governor in Florida in 2018, he was considered a favorite of then-President Trump.

He called DeSantis a “brilliant young leader.” Now, however, the reluctance of Trump, who is 32 years his senior, is noticeable: In the American primaries, in which Trump made a recommendation for numerous candidates, not a word was said about DeSantis.

September 29, 2022, Tallahassee, FL, United States: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, center, briefs the media on the aftermath of catastrophic Hurricane Ian at the Florida Department of Emergency Management headquarters, September 29, 2022 in Tallahassee, Florida.  Standing from left: FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie, First Lady of Florida Casey DeSantis, USCG Rear Admiral Brendan McPherson and FEMA Region 4 Administrator Gracia Szczech.  Tallahassee United States - ZUMAP138 20220929_zaa_p138_043 Copyright: xRobertxKaufmann/Femax

How Florida’s monster hurricane “Ian” softened even a short-term political front-runner

The record hurricane leaves a trail of destruction in Florida. 2.6 million households have no electricity. Governor Ron DeSantis must now work with his nemesis Joe Biden to deal with the massive damage. The ultra-right populist is suddenly pro-state.

Like Trump, the man from Florida belongs to the right wing of his party. During his campaign appearances, he talks about the “indoctrination” of children and young people in America’s schools by “spreading gender ideology”. In March, he, himself a father of three, signed a law “Protecting Parental Rights to an Education” that bans teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

Recurring themes in his performances are the increase in crime caused by illegal immigrants, for which he provides no concrete evidence, and the US government’s corona policy, which he considers a complete failure.

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Referred to as “Trump with a Brain”.

DeSantis offers similar hardline positions to Trump. But he does not share his penchant for scandals, loss of control and chaos, but is seen as more disciplined and smarter than his party colleague. According to some critics, this makes him more dangerous than Trump. DeSantis attended the elite universities of Yale and Harvard.

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Heretical, DeSantis is sometimes dubbed “Trump with a brain.” In addition, he was in the Navy – and deployed to Iraq. In the US this is not an unimportant detail. For those in the party and at the grassroots who are fed up with Trump’s antics but want a candidate with Trump content, DeSantis is a viable alternative. Ronald instead of Donald. One like Trump, but without his political and legal baggage.

“He listens to people. He came down here while we were in the middle of a storm.”

Immokalee resident who was hit by hurricane

Disaster victims show positive reactions

The meeting with Biden in Fort Myers shows that DeSantis, at least outwardly, also takes a more cultured approach, that unlike Trump, he feels bound by political and social conventions. Fanatical Trump supporters who see them fighting the “establishment” can get angry.

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But if you ask around Florida, where a slim majority voted for Trump in the 2020 presidential election, you’ll find plenty of positive reactions to DeSantis. “I love him and his politics,” said 18-year-old Julian of Naples, who was coming out of a fast-food restaurant in Immokalee with his friends. “I really like what he is doing in the field of education and school.”

In the small town of Immokalee, where the effects of the hurricane are still being felt, 61-year-old Vicki Claggett raves about DeSantis: “He listens to people. He came down here while we were in the middle of a storm.” Claggett says she will support him more than Trump. Because it made people angry.

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