No deal for federal disaster funding had been announced. Still, Florida’s top Republican officials told a crowd in Panama City that President Donald Trump has done his part.
“There is nothing we have ever asked for that this President has not done,” said U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
The Florida Panhandle continues to recover from Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 hurricane that struck the region in October. Federal disaster relief has been stalled for more than 210 days.
Pointedly, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott blamed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, for delaying dollars.
“I remember when Hurricane Sandy hit, Chuck Schumer said 70 days was way too long,” he said, noting the fight for federal disaster reimbursement in 2013. “For Florida, he’s in no hurry.”
Disaster funding has been slowed as GOP and Democratic leaders hammered out details like funding for Puerto Rico. Trump falsely tweeted the island territory had already received $91 million in funding and should get no more.
But at the Make America Great Again rally in Panama City, the focus stayed firmly on actions Trump has taken to help recovery.
That included an immediate commitment to rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base.
Both Scott, governor at the time Michael hit, and sitting Gov. Ron DeSantis said Trump had always promised to deliver whatever the region needed.
DeSantis said one of his first acts as Governor was to meet with Trump in Washington and request expedited funding.
“The President didn’t budge or wring his hands,” DeSantis said. “He said, ‘Tell the people of Northwest Florida, if they need me, I am there for them.’ He has already done a lot. We’re asking for a little bit more.”
The Panama City rally marks the first official campaign event of the 2020 cycle for Trump. A steady flow of speakers stressed the need for Florida to once again go Republican in order to re-elect the President.
“You’re part of the greatest movement in political history right here,” said U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.
The Panhandle Republican said Florida needed to re-elect Trump but also send more Republicans to Washington. And he said Republicans would stop investigations from undermining Trump, or Republican leaders would begin investigating the investigators.
“And yes, if takes it, we will lock them up,” he said.
Rubio ran against Trump for President in 2016 and did not campaign with him in Florida after losing the GOP nomination. But he eagerly took the stage in Panama City and said with urgency Florida must re-elect the President
“If you want more conservative judges, if you want a President standing up for America, we have to win Florida,” Rubio said.