DeSantis Declines Meeting with Biden Over Hurricane Idalia Damage

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Ron DeSantis’ office stated that he “has no plans” to meet Joe Biden during the president’s visit to the Sunshine State to assess damage caused by Hurricane Idalia. The president said earlier in the day that they would meet. However, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis would rather focus on recovery.

DeSantis spokesperson Jeremy Redfern said in a press release that there were no plans for Governor DeSantis to meet the President tomorrow. In these rural communities and so soon following the impact, just the preparations for a meeting that would be required to set up such a gathering would stop ongoing recovery efforts.

DeSantis may be trying to avoid a Chris Christie moment. In the days leading up to the 2012 presidential elections, the former GOP Governor of New Jersey sat next to then-President Barack Obama and inspected the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. Many critics believed that the moment was a boon for Obama who defeated Mitt Romney in a matter of days. Christie has never forgotten the incident. Vivek Ramaswamy, the current Republican presidential candidate, mocked Christie’s moment during the recent GOP debate.

DeSantis has been speaking with Biden regularly by phone about the disaster. The pair also appeared together in the year 2021, after the collapse of Surfside condominiums that killed nearly 100 people. DeSantis hadn’t yet announced his presidential bid. The White House was upset by the snub.

The White House released a statement saying that “their Florida visit has been planned closely in coordination with FEMA and state and local leaders in order to ensure that there is no impact to response operations.”

An anonymous White House official who spoke freely about the trip said that Biden told DeSantis on Thursday, and the governor did not “express concerns” at the time.

DeSantis’ account is different. He says that he told Biden the visit would disrupt.

The media will most likely make this seem like DeSantis was playing politics. DeSantis, despite his decision to skip the Biden event, said in a press conference on Friday that he was willing to put politics aside to help out the community.

We must support those who are in danger or who have problems, and this has to be more important than any short-term political calculations or positioning. This is real. People’s lives have been put in danger. There haven’t been any confirmed deaths yet, but this could change.

Then there are those whose lives have been completely turned upside-down. They need help. We’re going to work together, regardless of the party, from local to state to federal, to be able to deliver results to people in need.

Biden has pledged, too, to leave politics behind and joked about having DeSantis on speed dial because they have spoken so much.

DeSantis appears to be saying that they don’t need to hang around together. He may be trying to avoid a Chris Christie moment. But surely, the governor is aware of Biden’s bizarre reactions to the Maui fires and his awkward appearance at FEMA in order to promote Florida recovery efforts. DeSantis is likely to want to avoid any association with this.