DeSantis Is Unlikely to Join Biden on His Tour of Idalia Damage

(Bloomberg) -- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will likely not meet with President Joe Biden on Saturday when he tours parts of the state where Hurricane Idalia rampaged earlier this week.

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Although Biden had suggested an encounter might take place, DeSantis spokesperson Jeremy Redfern said in a statement on Friday night that “we don’t have any plans for the governor to meet with the president tomorrow.”

“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 added.

The decision by the governor, who’s running for the Republican presidential nomination, was reported earlier by CNN.

Senator Rick Scott, one of Florida’s two Republican senators, wrote on X, previously known as Twitter, that he’d join Biden in Suwannee County. “I’ll be urging him to support the immediate passage of my Federal Disaster Responsibility Act - families in Florida and across the U.S. need this relief ASAP,” Scott said Friday night.

Biden has sought to demonstrate close coordination in the Idalia response, speaking to DeSantis, a combative Republican who has often castigated his leadership, three times this week on federal steps being taken to assist in the recovery.

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“Seems like we should be on direct dial, the two of us,” Biden said Thursday during a visit to Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington.

DeSantis’s presidential campaign has been beset by a series of miscues, money troubles and unrelenting attacks by former President Donald Trump, and the hurricane has presented him with a chance to demonstrate effective leadership in a crisis.

Biden, who came under criticism for his initial reaction to the deadly and devastating wildfires in Maui, has been amplifying his role as a commander marshaling the powers of the federal government in a calamity.

The two men have managed to sidestep their political differences before. In October 2022, they toured Florida communities ravaged by Hurricane Ian.

(Updates with Rick Scott, in fifth paragraph.)

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