With the specter of Hurricane Katrina still looming large, East Coast governors stepped up their emergency responses to Irene, issuing loud warnings, mass evacuations, and continued caution. “No amount of spin, money, or ‘strategery’ can replace the gut reaction to a leader from a scared populace,” said the former head of the Republican Governors Association. “We clearly saw that recognition emerge from all parties with Irene.” New York's Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey' Chris Christie, Maryland's Martin O'Malley, and Virginia's Bob McDonnell all burnished their cred—and their 2016 national aspirations—with their performances, notes Politico.
“These are the ‘make-or-break’ moments,” said a former head of the Democratic Governors Association. With more than $7 billion in damages, 5 million people still without power, and at least 44 dead, Irene had a major impact throughout the region, even though the storm was less powerful than feared. Christie's "Get the hell off the beach," comment especially resonated with people. "When there’s a crisis, people expect a governor to be on top of it,” said a former New Jersey governor. “Whether or not you can do anything about it, people want you on the scene and people want you talking to people who are in trouble." (Read more Hurricane Irene stories.)