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Is This the Breakout Moment Ron DeSantis Needs?

AP Photo/Josh Reynolds

In the aftermath of the first GOP primary debate, many have assessed that while Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) did well (some polls say he won the debate), he didn’t have the necessary breakout moment to give him a fighting chance to compete with Trump. Sure, debates can be a huge opportunity for presidential primary candidates to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack, but let’s face it, breakout moments during debates are overrated.

For example, in 2020, Kamala Harris had a breakout moment in one of the Democratic primary debates. It was at that moment she essentially accused Joe Biden of being racist for his past statements on working with Democrat segregationists, particularly on the issue of busing.

“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day, and that little girl was me,” Harris said.

That moment became the pinnacle of her presidential campaign. It was clearly planned, and her campaign quickly started selling “That Little Girl Was Me” merchandise after the debate. Sure, her poll numbers improved, albeit slightly, after the debate, but they soon faded and she eventually dropped out before the Iowa caucuses.

So did DeSantis really need a breakout moment in the debate? Well, it’s debatable, but perhaps what might really be his moment will be what made him a presidential contender in the first place: his exceptional leadership.

DeSantis has been an extremely successful conservative leader in Florida, unafraid to fight the tough battles, be it reopening the state during the pandemic despite widespread criticism or going up against the transgender cult, woke Disney, and left-wing teachers’ unions. But his leadership prowess goes far beyond mere political battles. Last year, his leadership during Hurricane Ian was widely praised, and now he’s demonstrating once again the true leader he is as he manages the state response to Hurricane Idalia.

Related: DeSantis Has a Double-Barrelled Message for Would-Be Idalia Looters

Without hesitation, DeSantis skipped campaign events to manage Florida’s response to the hurricane.

“I think when you have situations like this, you’ve got to put the interests of the people first,” DeSantis said Monday during a press conference. “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, this is something that could potentially cost somebody their life. It 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.”

DeSantis’s leadership and management of the Hurricane Idalia response will stand in stark contrast to Joe Biden’s botched responses to the environmental disaster in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this year and the recent Maui wildfires, as well as Trump’s silence on the hurricane.

Anyone can memorize talking points and debate zingers and try to capitalize on them for political advantage, but real leaders rise to the occasion in moments that aren’t made for television. Kamala Harris’s one-liner didn’t save her campaign. But Ron DeSantis’s unparalleled leadership might rescue his.

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