Politics aside: Biden and DeSantis focus on putting Florida first

Hurricane Ian

(NewsNation) — Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Joe Biden have pressed pause on politics, pushing personal feelings aside and working together and get Florida the help it truly needs on the long road to recovery following Hurricane Ian.

On Thursday, Biden said “our entire country hurts” along with the people of Florida after Hurricane Ian flooded communities across the state, knocking out electrical power and forcing people into shelters.

Biden said he would visit Florida and meet with DeSantis when “conditions allow.”

“We know many families are hurting,” Biden said at the Washington headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where he was briefed on federal response efforts. “Our entire country hurts with them.”

It is entirely possible that in 2024, a Biden, DeSantis presidential race matchup may occur. DeSantis is the most likely Republican to become the nominee outside of Donald Trump to challenge Biden — assuming he is running.

While the two are forced to work together in the face of Hurricane Ian, politically they may have to judge just how close is too close.

With just 40 days until a crucial midterm election, it’s a drama with an almost Shakespearean premise playing out in national view.

Political foes are forced — by crisis — to become each other’s most important allies.

DeSantis put aside politics and praised the Biden administration for its willingness to help Florida deal with Hurricane Ian.

“He said all hands on deck, that he wants to be helpful, and he said ask whatever you need, ask us,” DeSantis said of the president.

Likewise, the president says he’s been working very well with DeSantis.

“He complimented me. He thanked me for the immediate response we had,” Biden said of DeSantis. “This is not about whether an anything having to do with our disagreements politically. This is about saving people’s lives, homes and businesses.

“We’re going to do everything we can to provide everything they need,” Biden said, adding that his instruction to them was to call him directly at the White House with their needs. “They know how to do that.”

The two leaders also worked closely following the surfside condo collapse. And while voters like seeing unity in crisis, base voters have their limits.

Following Hurricane Sandy, then-governor Chris Christie and President Obama worked side by side —
even sharing a warm handshake.

Politically, Christie paid for it when three years later he ran for his party’s nomination for president.

“I don’t trust President Obama with our records. I know you gave him a big hug. If you want to give him a big hug again, go right ahead,” Sen. Rand Paul said at the time.

The recent cooperation between Biden and DeSantis is one bright spot in an otherwise tense relationship.

Desantis has built his political brand by inserting himself into national politics, critical of the president on crime, COVID-19 and the border.

“What would be best is for Biden to do his damn job and secure the border,” DeSantis has said previously.

The Biden administration has equally been critical of DeSantis, most recently calling his sending migrants to Martha’s Vineyard “shameful.”

“Republican governors interfering in that process and using migrants as political pawns is shameful, is reckless,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Some Biden detractors noted that the president didn’t call DeSantis until after some news media outlets noted it. DeSantis himself hasn’t made a public point of the timing.

So far, the Biden administration has directed FEMA to send Florida:

1.1 million meals
1.5 million liters of water
110 thousand gallons of fuel

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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