President Biden: Biden surveys hurricane’s toll from the sky and ground in Florida. DeSantis won’t see him

LIVE OAK: President Joe Biden obtained a glance Saturday from the sky at Hurricane Idalia‘s affect throughout a swath of Florida earlier than setting out on a strolling tour of a metropolis recovering from the storm. Notably absent from his schedule was any time with governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican president candidate who steered a gathering might hinder catastrophe response efforts.
The mayor of Reside Oak, which is about 80 miles east of Tallahassee, the capital, thanked the president and first woman Jill Biden for coming to their neighborhood and “displaying us that we’re essential to you.”
“Everyone thinks Florida is wealthy, however this isn’t one of many richest counties within the state and there are people who find themselves struggling,” mentioned Frank Davis, who was grateful that he knew of no lack of life or severe harm.
At Suwannee Pineview Elementary Faculty, native officers supplied reward for early catastrophe declarations by the White Home and the fast stream of federal support. “What the federal authorities is doing … is a giant deal,” mentioned Sen. Rick Scott.
Serving to Floridians and their communities get again on their ft was the emphasis on the briefing on response and restoration efforts, with the political dust-up – Why wasn’t the governor of a hurricane-affected state assembly with a president who got here to survey the injury – seemingly not a priority for residents and officers.
The Bidens have been setting out on a strolling tour after the briefing.
“Our groups labored collectively to search out this space. This was a mutually agreed upon space due to the restricted affect,” Deanne Criswell, the pinnacle of the Federal Emergency Administration Company, instructed reporters because the president flew from Washington. She mentioned her groups “have heard no issues over any affect to the communities that we’ll go to right this moment.”
On Friday, hours after Biden mentioned he could be assembly with DeSantis, the governor’s workplace issued a press release saying there have been no plans for such a get-together. “In these rural communities, and so quickly after affect, the safety preparations alone that might go into organising such a gathering would shut down ongoing restoration efforts,” DeSantis spokesman Jeremy Redfern mentioned in a press release.
Criswell mentioned aboard the flight that energy is being restored and the highway are all open within the space the place Biden was going. “Entry is just not being hindered,” she mentioned, including that her crew had been in “shut coordination” with the governor’s employees.
Idalia made landfall Wednesday morning alongside Florida’s sparsely populated Large Bend area as a Class 3 storm, inflicting widespread flooding and injury earlier than transferring north to drench Georgia and the Carolinas.
As Biden left Washington on Saturday morning, he was requested by reporters what occurred with that assembly. “I do not know. He isn’t going to be there,” the president mentioned. He later mentioned the federal authorities would “maintain Florida.”
The political disconnect between either side is a break from the current previous, since Biden and DeSantis met when the president toured Florida after Hurricane Ian hit the state final yr, and following the Surfside apartment collapse in Miami Seaside in summer time 2021. However DeSantis is now working to unseat Biden, and he solely left the Republican presidential main path with Idalia barreling towards his state.
Placing apart political rivalries following pure disasters may be tough, in the meantime.
One other 2024 presidential candidate, former Republican New Jersey governor Chris Christie, has lengthy been extensively criticized in GOP circles for embracing then-President Barack Obama throughout a tour of harm 2012’s Hurricane Sandy did to his state. Christie was even requested in regards to the incident final month, in the course of the first Republican presidential debate.
Each Biden and DeSantis at first steered that serving to storm victims would outweigh partisan variations. However the governor started suggesting {that a} presidential journey would complicate response logistics because the week wore on.
“There is a time and a spot to have political season,” the governor mentioned earlier than Idalia made landfall. “However then there is a time and a spot to say that that is one thing that is life threatening, that is one thing that might probably price anyone their life, it might price them their livelihood.”
By Friday, the governor was telling reporters of Biden, “one factor I did point out to him on the cellphone” was “it might be very disruptive to have the entire safety equipment that goes” with the president “as a result of there are solely so some ways to get into” most of the hardest hit areas.
“What we need to do is be sure that the facility restoration continues and the reduction efforts proceed and we haven’t any interruption in that,” DeSantis mentioned.
The post-Idalia political penalties are excessive for each males.
As Biden seeks reelection, the White Home has requested for a further $4 billion to deal with pure disasters as a part of its supplemental funding request to Congress. That may convey the overall to $16 billion and spotlight that wildfires, flooding and hurricanes have intensified throughout a interval of local weather change, imposing ever larger prices on U.S. taxpayers.
DeSantis has constructed his White Home bid round dismantling what he calls Democrats’ “woke” insurance policies. The governor additionally often attracts applause at GOP rallies by declaring that it is time to ship “Joe Biden again to his basement,” a reference to the Democrat’s Delaware residence, the place he spent a lot of his time in the course of the early lockdowns of the coronavirus pandemic.
However 4 months earlier than the primary ballots are to be forged in Iowa’s caucuses, DeSantis nonetheless lags far behind former President Donald Trump, the Republican main’s dominant early front-runner. And he has cycled by way of repeated marketing campaign management shakeups and reboots of his picture in an try and refocus his message.
The tremendous PAC supporting DeSantis’ candidacy additionally has halted its door-knocking operations in Nevada, which votes third on the Republican presidential main calendar, and a number of other states holding Tremendous Tuesday primaries in March – an extra signal of bother.

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