Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized claims that climate change was responsible for Hurricane Idalia, which caused extensive damage in northwestern Florida last month.
During a tour on Sunday, the governor and GOP presidential candidate responded to a question about President Joe Biden’s statement that the climate was allegedly responsible for a spate of natural disasters, including Idalia.
“Well, I think if you look, there was a storm that went on this almost exact track in 1896. And it had 125-mile-an-hour winds just like this one,” Mr. DeSantis said in response. He was referring to a storm that hit more than 120 years ago, or just a few decades after the United States began its industrialization process—and years before the widespread use of gas-powered cars.
He added that “if you look at the state of Florida, the most powerful storm, hurricane we’ve ever had is, actually, the anniversary is now—it’s the Labor Day hurricane of 1935. It had an 185-mile-an-hour sustained winds.”
The governor then targeted people who are increasingly claiming that climate change is responsible for weather-related disasters. In August, a rare tropical storm impacted parts of Southern California, Nevada, and other western states, although an unnamed, Category 1 hurricane hit San Diego, California, in 1858.
Describing such a viewpoint as a “lie,” Mr. DeSantis said that “the notion that somehow hurricanes are something new, that’s just false.” He added, “We’ve got to stop politicizing the weather and stop politicizing natural disasters.”
“I think sometimes people need to take a breath and get a little bit of perspective here,” he continued to say. “But the notion that somehow if we just adopt, you know, very left-wing policies at the federal level, that somehow we will not have hurricanes, that is a lie.”
“And that is people trying to take what’s happened with different types of storms and use that as a pretext to advance their agenda on the backs of people that are suffering. And that’s wrong, and we’re not going to do that in the state of Florida.”
In recent years, certain scientists and some media outlets have often immediately reacted to hurricane events by claiming it’s a result of climate change, with some suggesting that Americans need to change their behaviors. Idalia was no different, with the Washington Post, The Associated Press, CNN, and Reuters saying it is linked to the climate.
Before Hurricane Idalia hit Florida as a Category 3 system, Mr. DeSantis canceled his presidential campaign events to deal with preparations for the storm and its aftermath. At one point, the storm caused a large oak tree to fall on the grounds of his home—the governor’s mansion—in Tallahassee, according to his wife Casey DeSantis, who was there at the time.
On Saturday, President Biden appeared in Florida to survey damage done by the storm, while a number of legacy media outlets noted that Mr. DeSantis “snubbed” him by not appearing with him. At one point, the president downplayed suggestions about whether he is disappointed that the Florida governor didn’t appear with him.
“No, I’m not disappointed,” President Biden told reporters on Saturday afternoon. “He may have had other reasons because—but he did help us plan this. He sat with FEMA and decided where we should go, where it’d be the least disruption.” He was referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which helps coordinate disaster relief.
Earlier in the day, the president told Florida residents that the federal government was committee to recovery efforts after Idalia’s landfall.
“As I told your governor, if there’s anything your state needs, I’m ready to mobilize that support,” he said. “Anything they need related to these storms. Your nation has your back and we’ll be with you until the job is done.”
It’s not clear when Mr. DeSantis will start campaigning again. But over the weekend, a super PAC, or political action committee, that backs Mr. DeSantis paused voter canvassing in four states and set higher fundraising goals for the next two quarters.
The PAC, “Never Back Down,” said it would pause field operations in California, Texas, North Carolina, and Nevada, according to multiple reports.
“We see real opportunities in the first three. The first three are going to set the conditions for the March states,” PAC communications director Erin Perrine said in a statement.
An aggregate of polls from RealClearPolitics, meanwhile, shows the Florida governor is still trailing President Donald Trump by about 40 percentage points. The former president has 53.6 percent support among GOP voters, while Mr. DeSantis has 13.1 percent as of Monday. He’s ahead of businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, who has 7.1 percent, and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has 6 percent.
On Truth Social, President Trump is still targeting Mr. DeSantis, including on Sunday when the former president claimed the governor has “seen a polling crash like no other” since the first GOP debates in late August. He faulted the governor for his “really bad Social Security votes,” saying he “would decimate Medicare. That doesn’t play well in America!”
From The Epoch Times