Biden tours Ian Damage in Florida with DeSantis feud



CNN

There is President Joe Biden Florida on Wednesday The devastation caused by it must be witnessed Hurricane IanPutting it one more time Her icy relationship with Gov. Ron DeSantis drew attentionA embattled Republican leader could challenge a Democrat for the presidency in 2024.

For now, Biden and DeSantis have put aside their growing political rivalry, and their administrations have worked together since the hurricane hit Florida’s west coast. White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday that DeSantis will join other local officials to brief Biden on the response and recovery efforts. The joint appearance assures Floridians that state and federal government are closely coordinating efforts to restore and rebuild, Jean-Pierre said.

“We work together,” he said.

DeSantis said Tuesday that he will meet with his emergency management team ahead of the president’s trip to see if the state has more to ask when they meet with him. But he said the Biden administration has been helpful since before Ian landed.

“(The Federal Emergency Management Agency) has worked well with state and local governments,” DeSantis said.

Last week, Biden and DeSantis welcomed a brief spat after a tragedy for the second time. A week after a condominium tower collapsed in Surfside, Florida last year — killing 98 — Biden and DeSantis sat side by side in a public display of mutual grief. They exchanged pleasantries in front of the cameras, with Biden affectionately patting DeSantis’ hand.

“We live in a nation of cooperation,” Biden said during their joint appearance. “That’s very important.”

But in the 16 months since that day, the public animosity between DeSantis and Biden has intensified, with the White House and the nation’s third-largest state seemingly always at odds. Biden has compared DeSantis to a school bully whose legislative agenda targets vulnerable LGTBQ children. DeSantis blamed Biden for rising inflation, and earlier this year he accused Democrats of withholding aid to hurricane victims because the president “hates Florida.”

A few weeks before Ian’s arrival, tensions reached a tipping point when the DeSantis borrowed two planes carrying migrants from the border to Martha’s Vineyard. Biden criticized the stunt as “un-American.” DeSantis threatened that future transits would go to Biden’s home state of Delaware.

Asked if Biden would raise the issue of transporting groups of immigrants to Democratic cities, Jean-Pierre said, “There will be a lot of time to discuss the differences between the president and the governor, but now is not the time.”

The growing rift in their fractured relationship coincides with DeSantis becoming the most popular Republican within his party not named Donald Trump. His penchant for grabbing headlines and angering liberals has made DeSantis a favorite among Republican voters, some of whom would like to see him challenge Biden in 2024.

As he seeks re-election next month, DeSantis has made Biden central to his campaign against his Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist. Florida’s Republican Party aired ads on behalf of DeSantis that highlighted the close ties between Crist and the president, suggesting that Crist would “do for Florida what Biden did for America,” and twice repeating Crist’s words, “Thank God.” Joe Biden.”

But those tensions have taken a backseat — at least for now — to the enormous cleanup left by the hurricane’s considerable wake. Biden has spoken with the Florida leader several times and has promised to “be there every step of the way.” DeSantis praised the federal government’s response to the state’s many requests for assistance.

Even the Biden administration and DeSantis have joined forces to push back Questions about timing of eviction orders In Lee County, a devastating storm surge destroyed homes and affected the lives of those staying in the area. Speaking on Fox News Sunday, FEMA Administrator Dean Criswell defended Lee County officials, noting the unpredictability of this particular storm.

“I know that once the storm was forecast to impact Lee County, local officials immediately took the appropriate steps to ensure that citizens were alerted to get out of harm’s way,” Criswell said.

At a news conference Monday, DeSantis tried to shut down a reporter who tried to ask the governor if Lee officials had given residents enough time before Ian arrived. Lee ordered the evacuation about 24 hours before the storm made landfall, despite forecasts showing the potential for a more dangerous storm surge along the region’s coast than in neighboring northern counties.

DeSantis said the focus should be on “lifting people up and stopping talking incessantly and trying to instill nostalgia in people who are doing the best job they can with imperfect information.”

The first lady accompanied the president on Monday to survey Puerto Rico’s damage caused by Hurricane Fiona, Dr. Air Force One with Jill Biden landed in Fort Myers Wednesday afternoon.

Biden was visiting a community battered by a storm that many thought was heading further north before a late wobble turned toward Lee and Charlotte counties. At least 100 people have died after Ian slammed into Florida’s Gulf Coast as a massive Category 4 storm. Rescue teams continue to search for survivors, while residents enter the rubble and search for temporary homes. More than 400,000 Florida customers are without power, and it could take a month for power to be restored in hard-hit communities.

As part of a major disaster declaration for Florida, Biden approved aid for 13 counties on September 29, guaranteeing that the federal government will reimburse 100% of the cost of debris removal and other search and rescue costs for 30 days related to Hurricane Ian. Speaking at a news conference ahead of Biden’s visit, DeSantis said many hard-hit communities cannot begin clearing debris until roads are cleared, and officials there are now facing a time crunch.

“The clock is ticking,” DeSantis said. “Obviously they couldn’t get rid of a lot of trash when they didn’t have consistent access.”

Before leaving for Florida, Biden amended the disaster declaration and extended the repayment period by another 30 days, fulfilling a request DeSantis had planned to make that day.

One community facing such hardship is Pine Island, where all bridges failed as a result of Hurricane Ian. DeSantis announced in Matlacha that a temporary slow bridge to allow vehicular traffic to Pine Island will open later Wednesday.

During his news conference, DeSantis praised the federal government’s response to the storm.

“Local, state coordination, FEMA — this (hurricane) has less bureaucracy holding us back than anyone I’ve seen,” DeSantis said.

This visit has the potential to show how two men with very different personalities approach a tragedy of immeasurable devastation.

Biden has often leaned into the role of consoler-in-chief, guiding the nation through the post-vaccine era of the Covid-19 pandemic and communities across the country through more localized tragedies. Less than two years into his presidency, he walked through the rubble of tornado-ravaged western Kentucky, hugged the families of mass shooting victims in Uvalde and Buffalo, and comforted those displaced by wildfires in the West.

Speaking in Ponce, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday, Biden assured the islanders that “All of America is with you.”

DeSantis, portraying himself as a master leader, has directed the state’s response with a laser-like focus on the logistics of getting the state up and running again. His news conferences rarely flourish with personal stories of suffering and loss — a staple of Biden speeches. Instead, DeSantis is mostly forward-looking and matter-of-fact. He compiled recovery statistics and explained in sobering detail the state’s plans to tackle the hurdles ahead and collective hardships.

Asked by CNN on Sunday to deliver a message to people unable to reach loved ones living in the storm’s path, DeSantis’ response was typically practical: He focused on the government’s work to get victims online with Tesla CEO Elon Musk. communities.

“You can sign in,” DeSantis said. “So, that’s going to be comforting to a lot of people.”

Correction: An earlier version of this misstated the hurricane that caused damage to Puerto Rico. It was Hurricane Fiona.

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