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President Biden’s Heartwarming Hurricane Ida Visit
“President Joe Biden did not meet with possible competitor governor Ron DeSantis, who choose not to go, while seeing the damage wrought by Hurricane Ida and providing aid to hurricane victims on Saturday in Florida.
Biden, who praised DeSantis during the trip, said he was not disappointed by the absence of the Republican governor and mentioned that DeSantis had assisted in planning the trip.
DeSantis’ spokesperson said on Friday that there was no plan for the governor to meet with Biden, stating, “Security preparations for such meetings will end the ongoing recovery efforts.”
Biden, a Democrat, toured the hurricane-affected areas, receiving briefings from local officials and first responders in Live Oak, a city severely affected by the storm. He observed fallen trees on houses and stated that no one “smart” can doubt climate change.
However, his trip quickly became political. The President, who had mentioned multiple conversations with DeSantis earlier in the week, had stated on Friday that they would meet personally. DeSantis’ decision to stay away may have influenced the White House’s stance.
When asked if DeSantis’ absence disappointed him, Biden responded in the negative.
Biden, standing in front of a damaged house, told reporters, ‘No, I’m not disappointed. There could be other reasons… but he helped us plan.’ Mentioning discussions with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the President said, ‘He sat down with FEMA and decided where we should go, where the least disruption would be.’
Biden expressed satisfaction that Republican former Florida Governor and Senator Rick Scott had come despite differences on several issues. Scott, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, who was the 45th President of the United States, wore a cap with “Navy” in the front and “45” written on the back. Scott later explained that he wore the cap in reference to his time as Florida’s 45th governor.
According to his official schedule, 44-year-old DeSantis spent the day traveling to small communities along Florida’s Gulf Coast, approximately 50 miles south of Live Oak.
Governor DeSantis is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, aiming to challenge Biden for the presidency, but he lags behind in public opinion polls compared to Trump. The 80-year-old Biden is seeking re-election.
Biden and DeSantis have been discussing the hurricane regularly this week, which has affected Florida’s Big Bend region with Category 3 winds of nearly 125 miles per hour (200 kilometers per hour). On Wednesday, the President had emphasized that politics was not involved in their conversations.
Due to the fast-paced nature of the nomination race, DeSantis could have risked a politically damaging photo-op with Biden while assessing the hurricane damage. Although he trails Trump significantly, DeSantis is ahead of other Republican candidates in the race.
Last year, after Hurricane Isaias, a viral photo of Biden’s trip to Florida showed him in an animated conversation with DeSantis, highlighting the contrasting styles of the two politicians in public dialogue.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is also running for the 2024 Republican nomination, criticized then-Democratic President Barack Obama for his praise in 2012 when the Democrat visited his state after Superstorm Sandy.
During his trip to Live Oak, Biden received praise from Republican Senator Scott for declaring a federal disaster early on.
President, in turn, praised both Scott and DeSantis. Biden said, ‘The Governor was on top of it.’
The White House stated that Biden informed DeSantis about the trip during their conversation on Thursday, and the governor expressed no concerns.
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said that their meeting would not impact recovery efforts due to the failure to meet.
She told reporters that the search and rescue campaign had been completed, and officials were now focusing on restoring power in affected areas. She said that by Saturday, less than 1% of Floridians were without power, though this figure was much higher in some directly affected areas.
DeSantis has been a vocal critic of Biden and clashed with him on COVID-19 vaccines, abortion, and LGBTQ+ rights. But when they met during Biden’s Florida trip last year to assess the hurricane’s devastation, the President mentioned that they had ‘worked together.’
Biden had visited Hawaii just last week after a devastating wildfire and expressed confidence that Congress would approve his administration’s request for an additional $4 billion to deal with natural disasters.
He told reporters, ‘I’m confident because I can’t imagine Congress saying, “We’re not going to help.”‘
After concluding his trip to Florida, he returned to his home state of Delaware, where he planned to spend the weekend.”