President Joe Biden (D) finally reached out to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) Tuesday night after facing backlash throughout the day for not being in touch with the governor ahead of Hurricane Ian’s landfall on the state.
“President Biden spoke this evening with Governor DeSantis of Florida to discuss the steps the Federal government is taking to help Florida prepare for Hurricane Ian,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “The President and the Governor committed to continued close coordination.”
Biden had managed to find time to speak with several Florida mayors ahead of Hurricane Ian’s anticipated landfall but he had not bothered to call DeSantis (R), one of his top political opponents.
Biden held separate calls earlier in the day with Mayor Jane Castor of Tampa, Mayor Ken Welch of St. Petersburg, and Mayor Frank Hibbard of Clearwater to discuss preparations for the potential impacts from Hurricane Ian, the White House said in a statement.
What was notable about the statement from the administration was that it made no mention of Biden reaching out to DeSantis. Biden’s apparent refusal to talk to DeSantis comes after he pledged “unity” and promised to be “a President for all Americans.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre did not give any details during the press conference about why the president had not called DeSantis, and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell dodged a question from a reporter about the matter during the press briefing.
“In the past … President Biden, excuse me, has made calls to governors in situations of natural disasters. Kay Ivey in Alabama or Asa Hutchinson in Arkansas or the governor of Texas,” the reporter said. “Is there any, can you articulate I guess, how those determinations are made and why, why it hasn’t been made in this case to have the president call the governor?”
“Yeah, the president is very focused on making sure that the federal family has the right resources available to support this,” Criswell said. “That is why I contacted the governor right away. And we have a team of my senior leadership that are embedded with the governor to make sure that we’re supporting that.”
“Our focus today is making sure that we have the right measures in place to support the life saving activities that need to happen,” she added. “Any conversations afterwards, will need to be, we need to see what the damages are.”
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