September 3, 2023

Biden Visits Hurricane Victims in Florida Without Governor DeSantis, Competition in the 2024 Presidential Election?

President Joe Biden traveled to Florida on Saturday, September 2, 2023, to review the damage from Hurricane Idalia and comfort the victims of the hurricane, but he was not accompanied by Governor Ron DeSantis, a rival candidate in next year’s presidential election. The governor is running as the Republican presidential candidate in the 2024 election to oust Biden from the White House, but trails Trump in opinion polls. Biden, 80, is running for re-election. Biden, who praise DeSantis during the visit, said he was not upset by the Republican governor’s absence and said DeSantis had helped plan the trip.

A spokesperson for DeSantis said Friday the governor had no plans to meet Biden, saying the “security preparations needed to hold such a meeting will halt ongoing recovery efforts.” Biden, a Democrat, took an aerial tour and received briefings from local officials and first responders in Live Oak, a city worst affected by the storm. He saw houses with fallen trees, and said no “intelligent” person could doubt that climate change was happening. But politics got in the way of his journey. The president, who has spoken with DeSantis several times this week, said Friday that they would meet in person.

When asked if he was disappoint DeSantis didn’t come, Biden said no.

“No, I’m not up set. He may have had other reasons. “He sits down with FEMA and decides where we should go, where there is the least disruption,” the president said, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Biden said he was glad Senator Rick Scott, the Republican former governor of Florida, was coming even though they differed on many issues. Scott, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, who was the 45th US president, wore a hat that read “Navy” on the front and “45” on the back. Scott later said he wore the hat as a reference to his tenure as Florida’s 45th governor.

DeSantis, 44, spent the day about 50 miles south, touring small communities along Florida’s Gulf Coast

according to his official timetable. Biden and DeSantis have spoken regularly this week about the storm, which battered Florida’s Big Bend region with Category 3 winds of nearly 200 kph. On Wednesday, the president said politics did not interfere in their talks.It may be politically dangerous for DeSantis to be photographe with Biden facing hurricane damage as the race for the nomination intensifies. Although he trails far behind Trump, DeSantis leads other Republican candidates in the race.

When Biden visited Florida after Hurricane Ian last year, a photo of DeSantis standing awkwardly to the side as the president spoke excitedly to a local couple went viral, highlighting the differences between the two politicians’ styles of public interaction. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is also running for the 2024 Republican nomination, drew criticism for his praise of President Barack Obama in 2012 when Democrats visited his state in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. During his visit to Live Oak, Biden drew praise from Republican Sen. The White House said Biden, who was traveling with his wife, Jill, told DeSantis about the visit during a conversation on Thursday, and the governor did not raise his concerns.

Their failure to meet will have no impact on recovery efforts, FEMA chief Deanne Criswell said.

He told reporters that search and rescue operations had been complete and officials were now focusing on restoring power to the affected areas. Less than 1% of Floridians had no power on Saturday, he said, although the figure was much higher in some areas directly affecte by the storm. But when they met last year during Biden’s visit to Florida to assess the devastation from Hurricane Ian, the president said they had worked together “hand in hand.” Biden visited Hawaii last week in the wake of deadly wildfires there. He expressed confidence Friday that Congress would approve his administration’s request for an additional $4 billion to address natural disasters. After finishing his trip in Florida, he traveled to his home state of Delaware, where he planned to spend the weekend.

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