Democratic officials expected Joe Biden to attack DeSantis

U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to Florida on Wednesday and pledge support to help the state recover from the Hurricane Ian during a visit that includes a meeting with Governor Ron DeSantis, a possible rival in the 2024 presidential race.

The Democratic president and the Republican governor are at odds over scores of issues, including climate change, which experts blame for Florida’s increasingly wet, windy and intense hurricanes.

Biden to tour storm-damaged Florida, meet with DeSantis

More than 100 people died and nearly 400,000 homes and businesses remained without power in Florida on Tuesday, five days after Hurricane Ian crashed across the state. On Monday, Biden visited Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory battered by Hurricane Fiona last month.

Biden will survey Florida’s badly damaged Fort Myers by helicopter, before meeting with residents and disaster-relief officials, as well as DeSantis, according to the White House.

Biden has been in regular communication with DeSantis during the crisis and the federal government picked up a significant share of the initial disaster relief. Last week, Biden said his relationship with DeSantis is “irrelevant” but “very fine.”

When Biden visited Florida in July after a condominium complex collapsed and killed nearly 100 people, he said, “we’re letting the nation know we can cooperate when it’s really important,” as he and DeSantis sat shoulder to shoulder.

On climate change, Biden has made reducing carbon emissions a focus of his presidency, while DeSantis backed funding to harden Florida’s defenses against flooding but also opposed some previous disaster-relief aid and pushed pension funds not to consider environmental impact when they invest.

Before Hurricane Ian hit, Biden had planned a rally in the political battleground state last week. Then, Democratic officials expected Biden to attack DeSantis’ approach, which has included shunning COVID-19 lockdowns, mocking Biden’s age and abilities, penalizing Walt Disney World Resort for opposing state laws limiting discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools and flying Venezuelan immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.

President Biden scheduled to visit Fort Myers today to assess Hurricane Ian damage

President Joe Biden will visit Fort Myers on Wednesday to “reaffirm his commitment to supporting the people of Florida as they recover and rebuild” from Hurricane Ian, a ferocious storm that struck the Sunshine State a week ago, unleashing widespread destruction of homes and businesses, according to White House officials.

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told White House reporters on Tuesday that Biden, along with first lady Jill Biden, are scheduled to meet with small business owners and local residents impacted by the storm.

They will also “thank the federal, state, and local officials working around the clock to provide lifesaving assistance, restore power, distribute food and water, removing debris, and begin rebuilding efforts,” said Jean-Pierre.

She added that Gov. Ron DeSantis, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, along with other state and local officials will share with the president an outline of the “current response and recovery efforts.”

The one-day presidential visit comes one week after the monster-sized Hurricane Ian pummeled the state with crushing storm surge, obliterating wind speeds and torrential rainfall, leaving a swath of devastation from the southwestern coast across the I-4 corridor, from the Gulf to the Atlantic.

The hurricane, the fifth-most powerful to ever hit the U.S., left countless homes and businesses wrecked or underwater and nearly 2.7 million people without power. About 1.2 million people remained without power as of Saturday.

The massive storm made landfall last Wednesday near Cayo Costa just west of Fort Myers, and triggered dramatic search-and-rescue efforts — some by helicopters and airboats — in several hard-hit areas of the state, mostly southwest Florida.

““This is an American crisis. We’re all in this together,” said President Biden last Friday. “I just want the people of Florida to know we see what you’re going through, and we’re with you. We’re going to do everything we can for you.”

Biden extends federal funding for debris removal

Shortly before leaving Washington to assess recovery efforts in Florida, President Joe Biden extended the federal government’s commitment to paying for debris removal and emergency protective measures.

Under the major disaster declaration Biden issued Sept. 29, the government is obligated to cover 100% of costs for 30 days.

Today’s announcement extends the full funding by another 30 days.

Biden has issued a disaster declaration to make federal funding available to the Seminole Tribe of Florida and residents in 17 Florida counties: Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, Sarasota, Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia. More are expected in the coming days.

Biden, DeSantis set aside differences in disaster
Major disasters can be legacy-defining moments for major political figures like President Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been a frequent critic of the president.,biden-has-been-in-regular-communication-with-desantis/6

The two could, in fact, face off in 2024. DeSantis is widely considered a top Republican candidate if former President Trump decides not to run.

Biden has said his political disagreements with DeSantis are irrelevant to his administration’s response and has offered the governor “the fullest federal support.”

DeSantis has put aside his challenges to Biden on immigration (the Venezuelan migrants DeSantis ordered flown to Martha’s Vineyard) and other issues to work closely with the federal government.

DeSantis will be among the officials today to brief Biden on response and recovery efforts.

“We are working as one,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday.