How Ron DeSantis is taking advantage of Hurricane Idalia
The way that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis portrayed himself managing the response to Hurricane Idalia's impact on the Sunshine State could provide his distressed 2024 White House bid its "best opportunity for a reset," according to a Saturday analysis by Emily Mahony of The Tampa Bay Times
Through "a photo of him sitting in a Florida-style Situation Room," an appearance on Fox News, and an "on-camera interview with Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore," DeSantis crafted "a snapshot of an executive hard at work during a crisis," Mahoney writes, noting, "They are also a departure from the churn of news about his struggling presidential campaign. Hurricane Idalia may provide DeSantis with the best opportunity for a reset yet, after weeks of more artificial ones attempted by his campaign, including staff shakeups and messaging pivots."
Mahoney explains that "all the free media coverage of DeSantis during the storm added up to the equivalent of $17 million worth of paid ad time, according to The Messenger, which cited a media tracking service. That TV time is even more crucial after DeSantis' campaign burned through much of its cash in the second quarter of this year, prompting his operation to rely heavily on a super PAC with the ability to raise unlimited funds."
As pro-DeSantis political action committees were "quietly at work" finalizing plans for an "ad blitz in Iowa and New Hampshire between Labor Day and Halloween," Mahoney continues, "Idalia provided a respite from negative coverage" of DeSantis' attempt to secure the Republican Party's nomination.
And while "how much it gives him a positive boost remains to be seen," Mahoney says, "it wouldn't be the first time" that a natural disaster has benefited DeSantis.
"Last year during his reelection bid, the catastrophic Hurricane Ian was largely viewed as the knockout hit to the campaign of his longshot Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist. After that storm, DeSantis held a news conference with President Joe Biden, during which the Democratic president praised DeSantis’ response, leaving Crist with little room to criticize the governor," Mahoney recalls.
"Of course, the dynamics of 2024 are far from comparable to DeSantis' 2022 reelection, when he was the heavy favorite and at one point had more than 80 times more campaign money than his opponent," Mahoney adds, stressing, "This time, DeSantis is running from far behind, with former President Donald Trump dominating the Republican primary field.
View Mahoney's full report at this link.
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