© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks previous to awarding Medals of Honor to U.S. Military veterans who fought within the Vietnam Warfare, throughout a ceremony within the East Room on the White Home in Washington, U.S., July 5, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Picture
By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden was in northern Florida on Saturday, surveying the harm attributable to Hurricane Idalia and comforting individuals affected by the storm, although he had no plans to fulfill with Ron DeSantis, the state’s Republican governor and a possible presidential rival.
Biden, a Democrat, advised reporters on Friday he would see the governor through the journey, however DeSantis’ spokesman Jeremy Redfern mentioned later that no assembly was deliberate and “the safety preparations alone that might go in to organising such a gathering would shut down ongoing restoration efforts.”
Responding to a query on Saturday on what had occurred to the assembly, Biden advised reporters, “I do not know. He isn’t going to be there.”
DeSantis, 44, is working for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination to oust Biden from the White Home, however trails former President Donald Trump in opinion polls. Biden, 80, is working for re-election.
Biden and DeSantis have spoken recurrently this week concerning the storm, which pummeled Florida’s Massive Bend area with Class 3 winds of almost 125 mph (200 kph). On Wednesday, the president mentioned politics had not crept into their conversations. “I believe he trusts my judgment and my want to assist,” Biden mentioned.
The White Home mentioned Biden, who’s touring along with his spouse, Jill, knowledgeable DeSantis concerning the go to throughout a dialog on Thursday and the governor didn’t elevate considerations then.
“Their go to to Florida has been deliberate in shut coordination with FEMA in addition to state and native leaders to make sure there isn’t any affect on response operations,” White Home spokesperson Emilie Simons mentioned, referring to the Federal Emergency Administration Company.
Their failure to fulfill won’t have any affect on restoration efforts, FEMA’s director, Deanne Criswell, mentioned on Saturday.
She advised reporters that search and rescue operations had wrapped up and that officers have been now targeted on restoring energy to the affected areas. Lower than 1% of Floridians have been with out energy as of Saturday, she mentioned, although that determine was considerably greater in some areas instantly impacted by the hurricane.
DeSantis has been a pointy critic of Biden, and the 2 have clashed over COVID-19 vaccines, abortion and LGBT rights. However they met final 12 months when Biden got here to Florida to evaluate the devastation from Hurricane Ian, and Biden mentioned on the time that they’d labored collectively “hand in glove.”
DeSantis might not wish to be photographed with Biden overlooking storm harm now because the Republican presidential main race intensifies. Although he trails Trump, DeSantis leads the opposite Republican candidates within the race.
When Biden visited Florida after Hurricane Ian, a photograph of DeSantis standing awkwardly to the facet as Biden talked animatedly with a neighborhood couple went viral, highlighting the distinction between the 2 politicians’ types of public interplay.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who can also be working for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, drew criticism for his reward of President Barack Obama in 2012 when the Democrat visited his state within the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.
Biden is visiting Dwell Oak in northern Florida, the place he took an aerial tour of the harm and the place he’s set to obtain a briefing on restoration efforts. He and the primary woman can even tour a neighborhood that was hit by the storm, the place they are going to see destroyed houses and communicate to first responders, Criswell mentioned.
Biden visited Hawaii simply final week within the aftermath of lethal wildfires there, and mentioned on Wednesday that nobody might deny the local weather disaster in gentle of the acute climate.
After concluding the Florida journey, he’s slated to journey to his house state of Delaware for the weekend.