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President Joe Biden (D) has spoken on the phone with numerous Florida mayors ahead of Hurricane Ian’s anticipated landfall this week, but he has not called Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), one of his top political opponents.
Biden held separate calls Tuesday 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.
The president spoke about response efforts at the federal, state, and local levels that officials are taking to be ready for if and when the hurricane hits the state.
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 about why the president has 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.”
Washington Post's Matt Viser with DeSantis needling: "In the past…Biden has made calls to governors in…natural disasters, Kay Ivey…Asa Hutchinson….or [Greg Abbott]…Can you articulate…why it hasn't been made in this case to have the President call the governor?" pic.twitter.com/idKBm6qs7A
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) September 27, 2022
DeSantis said during a press conference that more than two million Floridians were under evacuation orders as the category 3 hurricane approached.
“There’s still uncertainty about with where that exact landfall will be, but just understand the impacts are going to be far, far broader than just where the eye of the storm happens to make landfall,” DeSantis said. “When you have 5 to 10 feet of storm surge, that is not something you want to be a part of. Mother Nature is a very fearsome adversary, so please heed those warnings.”