President Joe Biden was in Florida to see first-hand the destruction brought on by Hurricane Ian, as soon as once more placing a highlight on his icy relationship with Gov. Ron DeSantis, the combative Republican chief posed to doubtlessly problem the Democrat for the presidency in 2024.
For the time being, Biden and DeSantis have put their budding political rivalry apart, and their administrations have labored in live performance for the reason that hurricane’s lethal collision with Florida’s west coast. That was on show Wednesday.
Shortly after touring the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast communities by helicopter, Biden was greeted at Fisherman’s Wharf by DeSantis and his spouse, Casey, the place they talked for a number of minutes among the many wreckage.
In a joint look moments later, Biden and DeSantis emphasised to reporters that their two administrations, although usually at odds, are working intently collectively on the rescue and restoration efforts.
“I’m simply grateful everybody has banded collectively,” DeSantis mentioned, earlier than including: “Mr. President, welcome to Florida. We recognize working collectively throughout numerous ranges of presidency.”
Biden mentioned the cooperation has been “extraordinary,” and he emphasised the flexibility of Americans throughout the nation to assist in occasions of want and urged Floridians to some day return the favor.
“We’re gonna get you all by this due to the grit of all of you, however if you get it accomplished, if you hear it occurs some other place, keep in mind this the United States of America,” Biden mentioned. “We’re all in this collectively.”
Later, Biden instructed reporters that DeSantis has “accomplished a very good job” main Florida by this catastrophe, calling the Republican’s response “fairly exceptional.”
“We have very completely different political philosophies, however we’ve labored hand in glove,” Biden mentioned. “In dealing with this disaster, we’ve been in full lockstep.”
The previous week marks the second time Biden and DeSantis have welcomed a short truce in the aftermath of a tragedy. Per week after a condominium tower collapsed in Surfside, Florida, final 12 months – killing 98 individuals – Biden and DeSantis sat side-by-side in a public show of bipartisan mourning. They exchanged niceties in entrance of the cameras, with Biden affectionately patting DeSantis on the arm.
“We dwell in a nation the place we will cooperate,” Biden mentioned throughout their joint look. “And it’s actually vital.”
But the general public animosity between DeSantis and Biden has solely intensified in the 16 months since that day, with the White House and the nation’s third-largest state seeming to be perpetually at odds. Biden has likened DeSantis to a schoolyard bully whose legislative agenda has focused weak LGTBQ youngsters. DeSantis has blamed Biden for rising inflation and earlier this 12 months he accused the Democrat of withholding assist to twister victims as a result of the President “hates Florida.”
The tensions reached an inflection level simply weeks earlier than Ian’s arrival, when DeSantis took credit score for two flights carrying migrants from the border to Martha’s Vineyard. Biden criticized the stunt as “unAmerican.” DeSantis threatened future transports could possibly be headed to Biden’s home state of Delaware.
Asked whether or not Biden would elevate the problem of DeSantis transporting teams of migrants to democratic cities, Jean-Pierre mentioned there can be “loads of time to debate variations between the President and the governor however now just isn’t the time.”
The rising chasm in their fractured relationship has coincided with DeSantis’ swift rise inside his get together to develop into the preferred Republican not named Donald Trump. His penchant for grabbing headlines and angering liberals has made DeSantis a favourite amongst Republican voters, a few of whom wish to see him problem Biden in 2024.
As he seeks reelection subsequent month, DeSantis has made Biden right into a staple of his marketing campaign in opposition to his Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist. The Republican Party of Florida has aired adverts on DeSantis’ behalf that spotlight the shut ties between Crist and the President, suggesting Crist would “do to Florida what Biden’s accomplished to America” and twice repeating a sound chew of Crist saying, “Thank God for Joe Biden.”
But these tensions have taken a backseat – no less than for now – to the immense cleanup left behind by the hurricane’s sizeable wake. Biden has mentioned he has spoken a number of occasions with the Florida chief and promised to “be there each step of the best way.” DeSantis has praised the federal authorities response to the state’s many requests for assist.
The Biden administration and DeSantis have additionally joined forces in pushing again in opposition to questions concerning the timing of evacuation orders in Lee County, the place a catastrophic storm surge decimated properties and imperiled the lives of those that sheltered in place. Speaking on Fox News Sunday, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell defended Lee County officers, noting the unpredictable nature of this specific storm.
“As quickly because the storm predictions had been that it was going to influence Lee County, I do know that native officers instantly put the proper measures in place to guarantee that they had been warning residents to get them out of hurt’s approach,” Criswell mentioned.
At a news convention Monday, DeSantis tried to close down a reporter who was attempting to ask the governor if Lee officers gave residents sufficient time to depart earlier than Ian’s arrival. Lee ordered evacuation about 24 hours earlier than the storm made landfall, later than neighboring northern counties regardless of forecasts that confirmed the potential for harmful storm surge alongside the area’s coast.
DeSantis mentioned the main focus needs to be on “lifting individuals up and cease incessantly speaking and attempting to forged aspersions on folks that had been doing the very best job they may with imperfect info.”
Air Force One touched down early Wednesday afternoon in Fort Myers with first woman Dr. Jill Biden, who accompanied the President on Monday to survey damage to Puerto Rico brought on by Hurricane Fiona.
Biden visited a neighborhood nonetheless shell-shocked by a storm that many thought was heading additional north earlier than a late wobble turned the attention towards Lee and Charlotte counties. At least 100 individuals died in Florida after Ian thrashed into the Gulf Coast as a large Category 4 storm. Rescue groups proceed to look for survivors as residents comb by the wreckage and search for short-term housing. More than 400,000 Florida prospects stay with out energy, and it could possibly be a month earlier than electrical energy is restored in the toughest hit communities.
As a part of a serious catastrophe declaration for Florida, Biden on September 29 accredited help for 13 counties that assured the federal authorities would reimburse 100% of the price of particles elimination and different search and rescue bills for 30 days associated to Hurricane Ian. Speaking at a news convention forward of Biden’s arrival, DeSantis mentioned many hard-hit communities couldn’t start particles elimination till roads had been cleared and officers there are now dealing with a time crunch.
“The clock has been ticking,” DeSantis mentioned. “Obviously they haven’t been in a position to do a number of particles elimination after they don’t have constant entry.”
Before leaving for Florida, Biden amended the catastrophe declaration to increase the reimbursement interval an extra 30 days, assembly a request DeSantis had deliberate to make later in the day.
One neighborhood dealing with such hardship is Pine Island, the place all bridges failed because of Hurricane Ian. DeSantis introduced in Matlacha the opening of a short lived slow-speed bridge later Wednesday that might enable automobile visitors to Pine Island.
During his news convention, DeSantis was complimentary of the federal response to the storm.
“Local, state coordination, FEMA — there’s been much less forms holding us again in this (hurricane) than most likely anybody I’ve seen,” DeSantis mentioned.
The go to confirmed how two males with vastly completely different temperaments approach a tragedy of immeasurable devastation.
Biden has usually leaned into the position of consoler-in-chief, guiding the nation by the post-vaccine interval of the Covid-19 pandemic and communities throughout the nation by extra localized tragedies. In lower than two years as President, he has walked by the wreckage of tornado-ravaged western Kentucky, hugged the households of victims of mass-shooting in Uvalde and Buffalo and comforted these displaced by wildfires in the West.
Speaking in Ponce, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday, Biden assured the island residents that “all of America’s with you.”
DeSantis, who kinds himself as a hands-on chief, has commanded the state’s response with a laser-like focus on the logistics of getting the state again up and working. His news conferences not often are flourished with private tales of struggling and loss – a staple of Biden speeches. Instead, DeSantis is commonly forward-looking and matter of truth. He rattles off restoration stats and lays out in sobering element the hurdles forward and the state’s plans to beat the collective hardship.
Asked by CNN on Sunday to present a message to individuals who couldn’t attain their family members residing in the storm’s path, DeSantis’ response was usually pragmatic: He centered on the state’s work with Tesla CEO Elon Musk to get the web on-line in the affected communities.
“You will be capable to log on,” DeSantis mentioned. “So, that’ll be a consolation for lots of people.”
CORRECTION: An earlier model of this incorrectly referenced the hurricane that prompted damage to Puerto Rico. It was Hurricane Fiona.