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Biden will tour the places Ian devastated in Florida, while his dispute with DeSantis is set aside

2022-10-05T14:57:24.950Z

President Joe Biden will visit Florida this Wednesday to see firsthand the destruction left by Hurricane Ian.



CNN documents the destruction Ian left behind on San Carlos Island 2:46

(CNN) ––

President Joe Biden will visit Florida this Wednesday to see firsthand the destruction left by Hurricane Ian, while part of the attention is focused on his apathetic relationship with Governor Ron DeSantis, the combative Republican leader who could face the president in the race for the presidency in 2024.

  • A week later, residents of Sanibel, the Florida island devastated by Hurricane Ian, return to what remains of their homes

"We are working as if we were one"

For now, Biden and DeSantis have put aside their budding political rivalry as their administrations work together since deadly Hurricane Ian hit Florida's west coast.

DeSantis and other local officials will brief Biden on the response and recovery efforts moving forward in the state, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday.

The joint appearance by the two leaders will reassure Floridians that the state and federal government are closely coordinating to restore and rebuild the state, Jean-Pierre added.

"We are working as if we were one," he insisted.

  • These are some stories of the victims of Hurricane Ian

DeSantis said Tuesday that he would meet with his emergency management team before the president's visit, precisely, to assess whether there is anything else the state should ask the president.

But he pointed out that the Biden administration has provided aid since before Ian made landfall.

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"(The Federal Emergency Management Agency) has worked very well with state and local governments," DeSantis said.

Biden and DeSantis, united by the tragedy in Florida

Ian's devastation in Florida last week marks the second tragedy in which Biden and DeSantis have called a brief political truce.

A week after a condominium tower collapsed in Surfside last year, claiming the lives of 98 people, the president and governor sat side by side in a public display of bipartisan mourning.

They also exchanged niceties in front of the cameras, like when Biden affectionately touched DeSantis's arm.

"We live in a nation where we can cooperate," the president said during their joint appearance at the time.

"And it's really important," he added.

Florida woman recounts how she survived Hurricane Ian 2:39

Yet the public hostility between DeSantis and Biden has only intensified in the 16 months since that day, to the point where the White House and the nation's third-largest state seem forever at loggerheads.

Biden has compared DeSantis to a school bully whose legislative agenda has targeted vulnerable LGBTQ children.

For her part, DeSantis has blamed Biden for rising inflation.

And, earlier this year, he accused the Democrat of withholding aid to tornado victims because the president "hates Florida."

Rivalry is on the rise

In fact, tensions reached a tipping point just weeks before Hurricane Ian hit, when DeSantis claimed responsibility for sending two planes that carried migrants from the border to Martha's Vineyard.

Biden criticized the move, calling it "un-American."

The governor also threatened that future shipments could go to Biden's home state of Delaware.

  • DeSantis promises that Florida will transport more immigrants from the border to other states

Asked if Biden would raise the issue of DeSantis' transfers of migrants to Democratic cities, Jean-Pierre responded that there will be "plenty of time to discuss the differences between the president and the governor. But now is not the time."

The widening gulf in their fractured relationship has coincided with DeSantis' rapid rise within his party to become the most popular Republican besides Donald Trump.

His penchant for grabbing headlines and angering liberals made the governor a favorite among Republican voters, some of whom want to see him take on Biden in 2024.

  • The woman who allegedly helped organize migrant flights to Martha's Vineyard is identified by CNN as Perla Huerta

In his race for re-election next month, DeSantis has used Biden as a staple of his campaign against his Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist.

The Florida Republican Party has run ads on behalf of DeSantis highlighting the close ties between Crist and the president, and suggesting that Crist would “do to Florida what Biden has done to America,” as well as repeating twice a sound clip of Crist saying, "Thank God for Joe Biden."

A pause in tensions between Biden and DeSantis over the devastation in Florida

Now, those tensions have receded into the background ––at least for now–– in the face of the immense devastation left by Hurricane Ian.

Biden has said that he spoke multiple times with the Florida governor and promised to "be there every step of the way."

DeSantis, for his part, praised the federal government's response to multiple requests for help from the state.

Ron DeSantis: 95% of customers in Florida have electricity 4:06

The Biden and DeSantis administrations also joined forces to push back on questions about when evacuation orders were issued for Lee County, where a catastrophic storm surge decimated homes and endangered the lives of those who sheltered there.

During an interview on Fox News this Sunday, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell defended Lee County officials, noting the unpredictable nature of this specific hurricane.

"As soon as the cyclone forecasts indicated it was going to hit Lee County, I know that local officials immediately took the appropriate steps to ensure citizens were warned and out of harm's way," Criswell said.

"Doing the best possible job"

  • What happened on Sanibel?

    The controversy over the evacuation order on the island destroyed by Ian

At a news conference Monday, DeSantis tried to evade a reporter trying to ask if Lee County officials gave residents enough time to evacuate before Ian's arrival.

Lee ordered evacuations about 24 hours before the cyclone made landfall, later than neighboring counties to the north, despite forecasts showing the potential for dangerous storm surge along the region's coast.

DeSantis responded that the focus should be on "getting people excited, and stop talking endlessly and trying to criticize people who were doing the best job they could with imperfect information."

Sanibel: from tourist paradise to ''war zone'' 0:55

Biden to assess damage in Florida

Air Force One is expected to land this Wednesday afternoon in Fort Myers with the president and the first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, who accompanied the president on Monday to assess the damage that Hurricane Fiona left in Puerto Rico.

  • Florida's Hurricane Ian death toll rises as crews go door-to-door looking for survivors in decimated neighborhoods

Biden will hit a community still in shock from a cyclone that many thought would head farther north before a late shift shifted attention to Lee and Charlotte counties.

At least 100 people have died in Florida after Ian hit the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane.

Rescue teams continue to search for survivors, while residents sift through the rubble and search for temporary housing.

More than 400,000 Florida customers are still without power, and it could be a month before service is restored in the most affected communities.

Parts of Florida remain dark after Ian passed 2:18

Two very different temperaments

This Wednesday's visit has the chance to show how two men with very different temperaments face a tragedy of immeasurable devastation.

Biden has frequently cast himself in the comforting role, guiding the nation through the post-vaccination period of the Covid-19 pandemic, and communities across the country in more localized tragedies.

In less than two years as president, he has walked through the debris of western Kentucky devastated by a tornado, hugged the families of victims of mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo, and comforted those displaced by wildfires in the West.

  • Here's the help Hurricane Ian survivors can ask for, but it's not always easy to get

Speaking from Ponce, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday, Biden assured island residents that "the entire United States is with you."

DeSantis, who casts himself as a hands-on leader, has led the state's response with an intense focus on logistics.

His press conferences are rarely embellished with personal stories of suffering and loss, a staple of Biden's speeches.

Instead, DeSantis is often forward-looking and practical.

He recites the recovery statistics and lays out in sobering detail the hurdles ahead and the state's plans to overcome the collective difficulties.

Asked by CNN on Sunday to deliver a message to people unable to reach loved ones who were in the storm's path, DeSantis' response was typically pragmatic: He focused on the state's work with the Tesla CEO. , Elon Musk, to make the internet work in affected communities.

“They will be able to log in,” DeSantis said.

"So, that will be a comfort to a lot of people."

CNN's Allison Malloy contributed to this report.

Hurricane IanJoe BidenRon DeSantisVictims

Source: cnnespanol

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