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PJ Media
PJ Media
2 Sep 2023
Rick Moran

NextImg:DeSantis Won't Meet With Biden When He Comes to Florida

Sometimes politics can be an intricate dance. This is especially true when a sitting president mixes politics with official business, like when Joe Biden visits Florida on Saturday.

The “official reason” for Biden’s visit is to survey the damage left behind by Hurricane Idalia. Ordinarily, in this case, politics is set aside and Gov. Ron DeSantis and the president would sit down publicly to discuss what Washington can do for those affected by the disaster — like after the horrific condo collapse north of Miami Beach in 2021 that brought both men together in a show of solidarity.

But this isn’t 2021. And Biden wouldn’t be able to help himself. Pictures of DeSantis — the supplicant — and Biden — the generous benefactor — would be inescapable.

So DeSantis danced away, claiming that a presidential visit would be a fraught occasion in the immediate aftermath of a hurricane.

“We don’t have any plans for the Governor to meet with the President tomorrow,” said Jeremy Redfern, DeSantis’ spokesperson, in a statement. “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.”

Biden countered, emphasizing the “official nature” of the visit.


The White House on Friday night said the president and first lady Jill Biden will still travel to Florida Saturday, along with Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It remains unclear where and what time they will be in Florida.

“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,” the White House said in a statement.

A White House official, who was granted anonymity to speak freely about the trip, said Biden informed DeSantis Thursday and the governor “did not express concerns at that time.”

In truth, that’s a load of codswallop. If the president comes within 10 miles of a disaster area, there is an enormous impact on operations. Roads blocked by trees and other debris will become even more unmanageable, police and fire units ordinarily detailed to assist survivors are instead sent to assist the president in getting his photo-op.

That’s exactly what this exercise in political gamesmanship is. Yes, it’s a photo-op demanded by some voters. But DeSantis wanted to avoid a tableau that would place him in the role of Oliver Twist saying, “Please sir, can I have some more?”

DeSantis also wanted to avoid any explosive, racially charged moments — something that the Biden team made clear was a priority of the president’s visit.

Senior White House officials said recently it was important for the president to speak with DeSantis after a 21-year-old white man killed three Black Floridians in a racially motivated Jacksonville shooting last week and, again, in the aftermath of the latest hurricane so Biden could offer federal support.

DeSantis made the right call in politely declining the president’s offer to meet. There would have been no upside to DeSantis playing tour guide to the president, and Biden would have been free to make the meeting an “Obama-Chris Christie hug” moment when the two men were forced to shake hands.

As it is, Biden will get his photo-op, and DeSantis will score points for his own response to the disaster. Call the whole thing a draw.