Biden is touring Hurricane Idalia damage. But DeSantis doesn't have plans to meet him
Updated September 2, 2023 at 1:47 PM ET
President Biden arrived in Florida on Saturday to survey damage after a powerful hurricane made landfall in the state's Big Bend region, but politics are threatening to overshadow the visit.
The state's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — who is seeking the Republican nomination to face off against Biden in the 2024 presidential election — does not plan to meet with Biden on the ground, as is customary after a natural disaster.
"We don't have any plans for the governor to meet with the president tomorrow," Jeremy Redfern, the governor's press secretary, said in a statement on Friday night.
"In these rural communities, and so soon after impact, the security preparations alone that would go into setting up such a meeting would shut down ongoing recovery efforts," Redfern said.
DeSantis and Biden have spoken regularly during the preparations for Hurricane Idalia, and in the storm's aftermath, as communities work to recover. Last year, when Biden visited Fort Myers, Fla. in the wake of Hurricane Ian, the two leaders put their political differences aside and visited affected residents together.
On Friday night, White House spokesperson Emilie Simons said Biden would travel with first lady Jill Biden and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell to Live Oak, Fla. — and emphasized that the trip would not affect local recovery efforts.
"Their visit to Florida has been planned in close coordination with FEMA as well as state and local leaders to ensure there is no impact on response operations," Simons said.
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