Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is among the people President Biden is meeting with during his trip to Florida to survey damage and relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Ian.
Upon landing in Fort Meyers, Florida, early Wednesday afternoon, the president and First Lady Jill Biden took an aerial tour to get a better look at the storm’s devastation. The Bidens were then greeted by DeSantis and Florida’s first lady, Casey DeSantis, at a wharf littered with debris. Together, the president, governor and first ladies met with locals whose lives were upended by the hurricane, and with local officials.
The visit will be a closely watched one, and both Mr. Biden and DeSantis have political optics to consider, on top of the well being of Florida residents.
More than 100 people have been reported dead in Florida and North Carolina, afterlast week and traveled inland and north, according to CBS News calculations. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday said the president and first lady will “reaffirm” the president’s commitment to Florida.
“The president will meet with small business owners and local residents impacted by Hurricane Ian and thank the federal, state and local officials working around the clock to provide life-saving assistance, restore power, distribute food and water, remove debris and begin rebuilding efforts,” Jean-Pierre said Tuesday. “Governor DeSantis, the FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell and other state and local officials will also provide the president with an operational briefing on the current response and recovery efforts.”
, Mr. Biden said he’d already spoken with DeSantis several times about the massive storm, and dismissed any suggestion that their political differences would impact their cooperation in helping the people of Florida. Mr. Biden said DeSantis had complimented him on the federal response to the storm.
“This is not about whether or — anything having to do with our disagreements politically,” Mr. Biden said on Thursday. “This is about saving people’s lives, homes, and businesses. That’s what this is about. And so, I’ve been — I’ve talked to him four, five times already. And it’s not a matter of my disagreements with him on other items.”
On Monday, the president and First Lady Jill Biden, which is still reeling from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Fiona last month, and rebuilding from Hurricane Maria in 2017.
“You have had to bear so much and more than need be, and you haven’t gotten the help in a timely way,” Mr. Biden lamented in his speech Monday. “And this latest storm dealt a serious blow to all, all the hard work that has been done since Maria.”