President Biden to Survey Hurricane Damage in Florida; No Meeting Scheduled with Governor DeSantis

by Andrew Wright
Hurricane Idalia

President Joe Biden is slated to travel to Florida this Saturday to personally assess the devastation wrought by Hurricane Idalia. However, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican and 2024 presidential contender, will not be in attendance. DeSantis cited concerns that the logistics of such a meeting could hamper ongoing disaster relief operations.

Jeremy Redfern, a spokesperson for Governor DeSantis, stated, “At this time, there are no plans for the Governor to convene with the President. Given the recent impact in these rural areas, the security arrangements required for such a meeting would interfere with current recovery initiatives.”

Hurricane Idalia made landfall on Wednesday morning in Florida’s thinly populated Big Bend area as a Category 3 storm. It unleashed widespread flooding and damage before proceeding northward to soak Georgia and the Carolinas. The timing of President Biden’s visit comes amid political tension, as Governor DeSantis announced his decision not to meet just hours after the President indicated he would be conferring with the Governor.

In response to Governor DeSantis’ preemptive cancellation, Emilie Simons, White House spokeswoman, said, “President Biden and the First Lady are focused on engaging with community members affected by Hurricane Idalia and evaluating the storm’s repercussions.” Simons further noted that the trip had been “meticulously planned in collaboration with Federal Emergency Management personnel and local and state leaders to ensure no interference with ongoing relief efforts.”

Upon landing in Gainesville, President Biden is scheduled for an aerial survey en route to Live Oak, where he will receive a briefing on current response and recovery efforts. Meetings with federal, state, and local officials, as well as first responders, are also on the agenda. Following this, he will observe the impact of the storm on local communities and deliver remarks.

This absence of coordination between the President and the Governor contrasts with their previous interactions. The two had met last year when Biden toured Florida after it was hit by Hurricane Ian and in the wake of the Surfside condo collapse in Miami Beach. Currently, Governor DeSantis is campaigning to unseat President Biden, having temporarily left the presidential primary trail as Hurricane Idalia approached his state.

The complexities of setting aside political differences during times of natural disaster are not unique to this situation. Former Republican Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, faced criticism within GOP circles for his public collaboration with then-President Barack Obama during the aftermath of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy.

Originally, both Biden and DeSantis suggested that the imperative to assist storm victims would supersede partisan considerations. However, DeSantis later contended that the logistics surrounding a presidential visit would disrupt ongoing relief activities.

“The safety and well-being of the public is the utmost priority,” DeSantis commented prior to Idalia’s landfall. “Now is the time for emergency response, not political campaigning.”

Political ramifications loom large for both men. As President Biden gears up for re-election, the White House has requested an additional $4 billion from Congress to manage natural disasters, bringing the total to $16 billion. This comes as extreme weather events continue to escalate amid climate change, placing an increasing financial burden on American taxpayers.

Meanwhile, Governor DeSantis is building his presidential campaign around the critique of what he terms the Democrats’ “woke” policies. However, he has yet to secure a leading position in the early stages of the Republican primary, facing several campaign setbacks and organizational changes.

The super PAC that supports DeSantis’ presidential bid has also suspended door-knocking efforts in Nevada and several Super Tuesday states, indicating further challenges for his campaign.

This report includes contributions from Brendan Farrington, a writer for Big Big News, based in Tallahassee, Florida.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hurricane Idalia

What is the purpose of President Biden’s visit to Florida?

President Biden is visiting Florida to personally assess the damage caused by Hurricane Idalia. He is scheduled to receive a briefing on current response and recovery efforts and will also meet federal, state, and local officials, as well as first responders.

Why is Governor Ron DeSantis not meeting with President Biden during the visit?

Governor Ron DeSantis has opted not to meet with President Biden, citing concerns that the logistics of such a meeting could interfere with ongoing disaster relief operations. DeSantis believes that the security preparations required for a presidential visit could disrupt recovery efforts.

Have President Biden and Governor DeSantis met before on similar occasions?

Yes, they have met before during times of crisis. The two convened last year when Biden toured Florida following Hurricane Ian and also after the Surfside condo collapse in Miami Beach.

What are the political ramifications of this situation?

Both President Biden and Governor DeSantis face significant political ramifications. As Biden seeks reelection, his administration has requested an additional $4 billion from Congress for natural disaster management. DeSantis, on the other hand, is campaigning to unseat Biden in the upcoming 2024 elections and is framing his campaign around opposing what he terms Democrats’ “woke” policies.

How might climate change be affecting such natural disasters?

The text indicates that extreme weather events like Hurricane Idalia have intensified during a period of climate change. As a result, the financial burden on U.S. taxpayers is increasing, leading the White House to request additional funds for natural disaster management.

What is the current state of Governor DeSantis’ presidential campaign?

Governor DeSantis has not yet secured a leading position in the early stages of the Republican primary and has gone through several campaign setbacks and organizational changes. His super PAC has also suspended door-knocking efforts in Nevada and several Super Tuesday states.

Has the meeting been called off due to political rivalry?

While both parties initially suggested that helping storm victims would outweigh partisan considerations, Governor DeSantis later contended that a presidential visit would disrupt ongoing relief activities. Therefore, it is not explicitly stated that the meeting was called off due to political rivalry, but the context suggests political tensions are present.

More about Hurricane Idalia

  • Hurricane Idalia’s Impact on Florida
  • President Biden’s Disaster Relief Efforts
  • Governor Ron DeSantis’ Political Campaign
  • U.S. Climate Change Policy and Natural Disasters
  • 2024 Presidential Elections: Key Contenders
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • History of U.S. Presidential Visits During Disasters
  • White House Funding Request for Natural Disasters

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Sarah K. September 2, 2023 - 2:39 pm

I feel for the people affected by Hurricane Idalia. They are the ones truly suffering. Hope the relief efforts don’t get slowed down by all this political posturing.

Jen S. September 2, 2023 - 6:24 pm

Wow, Biden’s asking for an additional 4 billion for disaster relief. That’s a lot but probably needed, given the circumstances. But where’s all that money gonna come from?

Tom W. September 2, 2023 - 10:01 pm

Interesting to see how DeSantis is playing his cards. Not meeting the Pres could either make him look strong or just stubborn. We’ll see how it plays out.

Rick G. September 2, 2023 - 11:42 pm

DeSantis says he’s focused on ’emergency response, not political campaigning.’ But not meeting Biden seems a bit like a campaign move to me. Just sayin’.

Mike J. September 3, 2023 - 12:39 am

Wow, politics really doesn’t take a break, huh? Biden and DeSantis could’ve put aside differences for the greater good but guess not. It’s all about optics these days.

Emily H. September 3, 2023 - 3:46 am

Climate change is the real culprit here. The article mentions additional funds are being requested due to more frequent disasters. When will we start taking it seriously?

Chris L. September 3, 2023 - 6:39 am

So DeSantis wants to run for president but he’s lagging behind Trump? Doesn’t seem like the best time to skip a meetin’ with the current President, but what do I know.


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