President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are heading down to Florida’s Big Bend region this weekend to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Idalia. However, it seems they won’t be meeting with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis after all. According to a spokesperson for DeSantis, setting up such a meeting right now could disrupt ongoing recovery efforts.
The spokesperson, Jeremy Redfern, clarified that there are no plans for the governor to meet with the president. He cited the security preparations that would go into organizing the meeting as a potential hindrance to the recovery efforts in rural communities. It seems like DeSantis wants to prioritize the needs of the affected areas over political meetings.
Reuters: President Joe Biden will travel to #Florida on Saturday to survey damage from #HurricaneIdalia, but a visit with the state's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, is not scheduled, despite the president's assertion that they would meet.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) September 1, 2023
Interestingly, President Biden had previously announced that he would be meeting with DeSantis, but the governor decided to cancel it. The two had met before during the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Although the White House emphasized that the Biden’s visit wouldn’t impact local recovery operations, it seems DeSantis had different priorities in mind.
Instead of meeting with DeSantis, President Biden will meet with other prominent figures in Florida, including Senator Rick Scott, Suwannee County Chair Franklin White, and Live Oak Mayor Frank Davis. They will take an aerial tour of the affected areas on their way to Live Oak, where they will be briefed on the response and recovery efforts. Later, they will also visit a community heavily impacted by the storm.
President Biden has already authorized a major disaster declaration, opening up federal resources to support the affected areas. This includes thousands of federal personnel on the ground, urban search and rescue teams, and millions of meals and liters of water for the states in need. While the political meeting between Biden and DeSantis won’t be happening, the focus remains on providing assistance and aid to those affected by Hurricane Idalia.