Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reportedly chose not to come and accompany US President Joe Biden — who is also his presidential rival in 2024 — as the 80-year-old landed in the disaster-hit state Saturday after the powerful Hurricane Idalia ripped through major areas, leaving destruction and misery behind.
Despite the Governor’s choice of not meeting, Joe Biden said he was not disappointed as DeSantis assisted his Florida visit.
Ron DeSantis’ spokesperson said Friday that the governor had no plans to meet Biden, saying “the security preparations alone that would go into setting up such a meeting would shut down ongoing recovery efforts.”
President Joe Biden took an aerial tour and received a briefing from local officials and first responders in Live Oak, a town that was hit hard by the storm.
After witnessing destruction and fallen trees, he stated that no one “intelligent” could doubt that climate change was happening. However, politics also hung over his visit.
Biden who has spoken to DeSantis multiple times this week, had said Friday they would meet in person. The decision by the governor caught the White House off guard.
“No, I’m not disappointed. He may have had other reasons… But he did help us plan this. He sat with FEMA and decided where we should go, where would be the least disruption,” Biden told the media.
Biden said he was pleased that Senator Rick Scott, a Republican former governor of Florida, had come despite their disagreements on many issues.
The 44-year-old governor spent the day about 50 miles (80 km) south, touring small communities along Florida’s Gulf Coast, according to his official schedule.
Responding to an earlier question Saturday on what had happened to the meeting, the 80-year-old commander-in-chief told reporters: “I don’t know. He’s not going to be there.”
DeSantis is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination to oust Biden from the White House but trails Donald Trump in opinion polls.