Florida’s Republican Governor, Ron DeSantis, will not be meeting President Joe Biden during the president’s upcoming visit to Florida to inspect the devastation caused by Hurricane Idalia. DeSantis’ spokesperson, Jeremy Redfern, explained that organizing the necessary security measures for such an interaction would impede the ongoing relief operations, especially in the affected rural areas.
Hurricane Idalia, a Category 3 storm, struck Florida’s Big Bend area on Wednesday, resulting in significant flooding and damage. It later headed north, affecting Georgia and North Carolina. President Biden has scheduled a trip to Florida for Saturday to personally observe the destruction.
Contrary to DeSantis’ announcement, President Biden earlier confirmed his intention to meet the governor during his visit. This divergence is notable since Biden and DeSantis met following previous disasters in Florida, including Hurricane Ian last year and the Surfside building collapse in 2021. However, DeSantis is currently on the presidential campaign trail, having paused only due to Hurricane Idalia’s approach.
Emilie Simons, a White House representative, stated that the president and first lady are eager to connect with those affected by Hurricane Idalia. She emphasized that the trip was coordinated carefully with FEMA and regional officials to prevent disruptions to ongoing relief initiatives.
Post-disaster political interactions can be sensitive. Notably, Chris Christie, former New Jersey Governor and another 2024 presidential hopeful, faced criticism within his party for publicly connecting with then-President Barack Obama after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Initially, both Biden and DeSantis highlighted the importance of prioritizing aid over politics. However, as the week progressed, DeSantis emphasized potential logistical challenges linked to a presidential visit, including significant security measures that might restrict access to severely affected regions. He underscored his primary concern: uninterrupted power restoration and relief operations.
While DeSantis actively critiques Democratic strategies in his presidential campaign, including taking jabs at Biden, the president hinted at a harmonious relationship earlier in the week. He mentioned frequent discussions with DeSantis regarding the hurricane and joked about the need for a “direct dial” between them.
Liz Sherwood-Randall, Homeland Security advisor, reaffirmed their collaborative spirit by referencing their shared efforts during past crises in Florida. She stressed their joint commitment to aiding Floridians in distress.