“You have national regime media” that wanted to see Tampa hit by the storm, DeSantis said, “because they thought that would be worse for Florida.”
“That’s how these people think,” he told Brendon Leslie, one of the rioters who attacked the U.S. Capitol last year and the editor of right-wing news outlet Florida’s Voice.
“I mean, they don’t care about the people of the state, they don’t care about the people of this community,” DeSantis continued. “They want to use storms and destruction from storms as a way to advance their agenda, and they don’t care what destruction is in their wake, they don’t care about the lives here. If they can use it to pursue their political agenda, they will do it.”
DeSantis’ office didn’t respond to requests for clarity on what political agenda he was referring to.
A day earlier, De Santis had snapped at a reporter for asking him if residents of Lee County, where Hurricane Ian made landfall last week, should have been told to evacuate earlier. DeSantis argued that at the time, the “cone” of the storm’s likely path showed it wouldn’t hit the county, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s charts said otherwise. Meteorologists had also warned that even if Ian hadn’t made landfall in that county, the county was still at high risk of flooding.
More than 100 people have died as a result of Hurricane Ian, with around half of those deaths reported in Lee County.
DeSantis, a potential contender in the 2024 presidential race, has been wearing his branded gubernatorial campaign gear at multiple official hurricane recovery events this week, shirking the Division of Emergency Management jacket he and past governors normally wear at such events.
Mac Stipanovich, a longtime Republican consultant in Florida, told HuffPost earlier this week that such a “brazen display of campaign merchandise while on very serious official business” is DeSantis’ way of dismissing governing expectations.
“DeSantis does these things because he knows he will get away with them, and that is all that matters,” Stipanovich said. “Right and wrong don’t enter into his calculations.”