US President Joe Biden to meet with DeSantis at hurricane briefing Wednesday
When President Biden visits the state on Wednesday to see the damage caused by Hurricane Ian, he will meet with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday that DeSantis and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell would give Biden a briefing “on the current response and recovery efforts.”
Biden will go to Fort Meyers, which was one of the hardest hit areas when Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm, hit Florida last week. Biden will thank federal, state, and local officials for their response and recovery efforts while he is there. The storm and recovery efforts in the state, where millions were without power, homes were destroyed, and state and local politicians warned that rebuilding would take years in some areas, have been the focus of White House officials’ efforts over the past week.
Weary of diverting attention from the hurricane response, Jean-Pierre and others have repeatedly downplayed any tension between Biden and DeSantis or whether other political disagreements would overshadow a meeting on Wednesday.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain made the following statement on MSNBC on Monday: “There are plenty of times to discuss the differences between Joe Biden and Ron DeSantis, but that is not around the subject of helping the people of Florida when they have been devastated by one of these super powerful storms that took dozens and dozens of lives, that has devastated an entire swath of the state.”
In the past week, Biden and DeSantis have spoken on the phone three times to work together on storm response efforts. In public, they have shown an aura of cooperation and professionalism.
However, the fact that the Florida governor has raised his national profile through conflicts with the administration and the possibility that Biden and DeSantis could compete against one another in a potential presidential election in 2024 casts doubt on everything else.
The White House has fought DeSantis over his decision to fly migrants from Texas to Massachusetts, his support for a law that restricts classroom discussion of sexual orientation, and his ban on mask mandates. However, this will not be the first time the two officials have attempted to put politics aside during their meeting on Wednesday.
In July 2021, after a condo collapse in Surfside, Fla., killed approximately 100 people, Biden and DeSantis sat side by side. At the time, the president gave DeSantis, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Rep. Marco Rubio of Florida, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida representative, and others for working together “in ways I haven’t seen in a long time” DeSantis also thanked Biden and the government for acknowledging the tragedy’s gravity and providing assistance. If the two men took the stage together on Wednesday, that exchange likely serves as a preview of how they would act.
According to GOP strategist and former spokesperson Doug Heye, “There are optics that are important, and so this whole conversation has been a waste of time because people don’t want to offend their political base.”Shame on any Democrat or Republican who would be offended if the president of the United States met with the governor of Florida. Shame on any Republican who would be offended if the president of the United States met with the governor of Florida.