Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a contender in the 2024 Republican race, suggested on Tuesday that he will “pause” his presidential campaign to deal with the impacts of Hurricane Idalia on the state.
The governor told reporters that “you do what you need to do” in situations like this and cited his prior work in dealing with Hurricane Ian, which struck Florida last September while he was running for governor of the state. He did not specify how long he would pause his presidential campaign.
During a press conference Tuesday in Tallahassee, a reporter asked DeSantis how long he’s “planning on staying in Florida and off of the campaign trail” ahead of the hurricane’s expected landfall on Wednesday.
DeSantis responded, “Well, this is no different. You remember Ian, we were in the midst of a governor campaign.”
“I had all kinds of stuff scheduled, not just in Florida, around the country. You know, we were doing different things and, you know, you do what you need to do. I mean, and so that’s what we’re doing,” he continued. “It’s going to be no different than what we did during Hurricane Ian.”
“I’m hoping this storm is not as catastrophic as Hurricane Ian was, but we’re going to do what we need to do because it’s just something that’s important. But it’s no different than what we’ve done in past iterations of all this stuff,” he added.
DeSantis’ remarks suggest his presidential campaign is currently on hold as he deals with the storm, which could begin to affect Florida with strong winds as early as late Tuesday and hit the state’s Gulf Coast by Wednesday. It is the first storm to make landfall in Florida this hurricane season and could deal a serious blow to the state, which is still recovering from Hurricane Ian’s aftereffects.
A state of emergency in Florida is now in effect for 46 of its 67 counties.
DeSantis mentioned the “political season” earlier this week when discussing the storm’s potential “life-threatening” nature and its effects on Florida.
“There’s time and a place to have a political season, but then there’s a time and a place to say that this is something that’s life-threatening,” the governor said Monday. “This is something that could potentially cost somebody their life, that could cost them their livelihood. And we have a responsibility as Americans to come together and do what we can to mitigate any damage and to protect people.”
“So that’s what I’ve done on all these different issues and that’s what I’ll continue to do; when you have these situations, you got to step up,” DeSantis added.
Support for DeSantis’ presidential campaign has significantly decreased in recent weeks since he attempted to reorganize his team in the midst of the race’s difficulties.
A brand new Yahoo News/YouGov poll, released just hours before the first GOP presidential debate, shows support for DeSantis’ campaign dropped from 23 percent in July to 12 percent. This is the first time in the poll’s monitoring of the 2024 GOP race that a higher proportion of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters expressed uncertainty about their support for a candidate, at 14 percent, than expressed support for DeSantis.
Vivek Ramaswamy increased from 3 percent in the previous month to 8 percent but still lagged behind DeSantis by 4 points in the poll. South Carolina GOP Sen. Tim Scott, who came in second with 4 percent, was followed by former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, who came in third with 3 percent.
Former President Trump held a commanding lead with 52 percent. Trump’s advantage over DeSantis, who remained his main rival, increased from 25 points in July to 40 points. The results come as DeSantis has sought to reset his campaign in recent weeks after struggling to make gains in the polls and taking on high expenses,” The Hill reported.
“The campaign cut a third of its staff last month and replaced its campaign manager earlier this month. DeSantis has most consistently placed in second in GOP primary polls but has not been able to make inroads on Trump’s lead, with the former president leading by double digits — and often by more than 20 or 30 points — in many polls,” the outlet added.
In a head-to-head comparison between the two candidates in a February Yahoo News/YouGov poll, DeSantis had previously prevailed 45 percent to 41 percent.
He is currently far behind Trump in that contest, 60 percent to 23 percent.