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Biden makes the people of Florida his priority while DeSantis focuses on petty politics
DeSantis reminds us why he's losing so badly
Ron DeSantis is not losing to Donald Trump by increasing numbers because Trump is a great candidate. DeSantis is losing because he is a horrible candidate whose political instincts and skills are perhaps the worst of any modern era major party candidate.
The latest example came Saturday when DeSantis refused to appear with President Biden as he surveyed the devastation in Florida recently caused by Hurricane Idalia. The President was met by Florida’s GOP Senator Rick Scott and other local officials but DeSantis claimed he could not be there due to “security preparations” that would disrupt the recovery effort. Of course, those concerns were apparently not an issue in the past when DeSantis welcomed President Biden to the state to survey past calamities.
For example, in 2021, after the deadly condo collapse in Surfside, Florida, there was Biden and DeSantis standing together touring the damage. In fact, both offered praise of each other at the time. “You recognized the severity of this tragedy from day one and you’ve been very supportive,” DeSantis said during a briefing in Miami Beach. Biden in kind added, “You know what’s good about this? We live in a nation where we can cooperate. And it’s really important.”
Just last year in October 2022, again Biden and DeSantis publicly toured the destruction caused by Hurricane Ian. At the time, DeSantis—again—praised Biden stating, “Mr. President, welcome to Florida. We appreciate working together across various levels of government.” And Biden told reporters that DeSantis has “done a good job” leading Florida through this disaster, calling his response “pretty remarkable.”
So what changed from those two occasions to now? Simple, in May, DeSantis announced he was seeking the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. In other words, politics—and petty politics at that.
That is not just my view but also CNN analyst and former Biden Communications Director Kate Bedingfield who on CNN Friday night called DeSantis’ refusal to meet with Biden when he was in the Sunshine State “small and petty.” Bedingfield added that in 2022 when she was there as the two of them stood together to assess Hurricane Ian’s devastation, “it was a powerful day. And it was an opportunity to put politics aside, in a really difficult moment.”
Presidents and governors of opposing political parties putting aside partisan difference in the face of emergencies has become a staple of American politics. We saw that with Biden and DeSantis two years in a row. During the time of Trump’s presidency, Donald Trump travelled to California to assess damage caused by wildfires with Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. And there, both Trump and Newsom exchanged praise for each other despite past political differences.
But potentially what raised red flags from a political point of view for DeSantis was what happened to then New Jersey GOP governor Chris Christie after he toured with President Obama the horrific damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012. Given that event occurred just a week before the 2012 election that pitted Obama against Republican Mitt Romney, some Republicans slammed Christie for in their view helping Obama with this bipartisan appearance.
In fact, when Christie ran for President in 2016, he was peppered with questions about that meeting. Christie bluntly—as usual for him—defended his actions stating that, “The president came to offer help. If they expected me to play politics and dump on the president, I wasn't going to do it."
To his credit, Romney even defended Christie for this appearance with Obama, saying in 2013 that as a former Massachusetts governor “you look for help from the federal government" when there are natural disasters. He added, "You want the president and you want the other agencies of the federal government to step in and provide help."
Despite DeSantis apparent snub, Biden did not criticize DeSantis. When Biden was asked while in Florida if he was “disappointed” that DeSantis was not there to tour the damage together, he responded, “Well, no, I’m not disappointed,” adding, “He may have had other reasons.” Indeed, Biden even praised DeSantis, telling reporters about the efforts to help people after the hurricane that “the governor was on top of it.”
One comment by Biden earlier Saturday at the airport in Florida perfectly sums up where the President’s passion lies. When asked if he had a message for DeSantis who would not be appearing with him, the President stated, “We’re going to take care of Florida.” And he has being doing just that. On Thursday, the President declared a “major disaster” in Florida which makes Federal funding available to affected individuals for a wide range of needs. The President also swiftly deployed resources to Florida including approximately 1,500 federal responders--including search and rescue personnel and members of the Army Corps of Engineers.
In addition, President Biden on Friday called on Congress to approve $4 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund. Biden added Saturday while in Florida standing in front of a home damaged by the hurricane, “I’m calling on the United States Congress — Democrats and Republicans — to ensure the funding is there.”
While DeSantis would not appear with Biden Saturday, he was very happy to accept the federal aid Biden was championing. DeSantis—who opposed such aid as a member of Congress dubbing it wasteful spending—responded about the Biden aid package, “We will apply for whatever federal money is available.”
If Trump ends up not being the 2024 GOP nominee, it’s doubtful DeSantis will be that person. He’s objectively awful. And if somehow DeSantis does win the nomination, I’m confident Biden beats him—badly.
This entire incident Saturday, though, is a reminder of why Biden is President of the United States and DeSantis is badly losing the race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. Biden is laser focused on helping people, while DeSantis is more concerned with scoring petty, political points.
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