On Tuesday night, President Joe Biden finally called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) after the White House faced backlash for dodging questions about why the president had contacted several others within Florida regarding Hurricane Ian, but refused to get in touch with the governor.
In remarks during a press conference, DeSantis called Biden out for not reaching out to him despite having time to call Mayor Jane Castor of Tampa, Mayor Ken Welch of St. Petersburg and Mayor Frank Hibbard of Clearwater to discuss preparations for the potential impact of Hurricane Ian.
Weird that Biden won't call DeSantis
In 2021, Biden spoke w/ CT Gov. Lamont, MA Gov. Baker, Maine Gov. Mills, NJ Gov. Murphy, NY Gov. Cuomo, and RI Gov. McKee ahead of Hurricane Henri.
He spoke w/ AL Gov. Ivey, LA Gov. Bel Edwards and MS Gov. Reeves before Hurricane Ida
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) September 27, 2022
The governor’s remarks came after one reporter asked DeSantis how he would characterize his conversations with the president as the hurricane approaches Florida.
“So I have not personally spoken with the president, but FEMA has approved our pre-landfall request,” the governor said.
“We feel like we have a good relationship with FEMA,” DeSantis added. “You know, I’m happy to brief the president if he’s interested in hearing what we’re doing in Florida, you know, my view on all this is like you got people’s lives at stake, you got their property at stake, and we don’t have time for pettiness. We got to work together to make sure we’re doing the best job for them.”
“So, my phone — my phone line is open,” he concluded. “But we are — we do appreciate the quick approval of the pre-landfall declaration.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre did not give any details during a previous press conference as to why Biden had not called DeSantis, nor did FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell — who also dodged questions from a reporter regarding the issue.
“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. 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?” the reporter asked Criswell.
“Yeah, the president is very focused on making sure that the federal family has the right resources available to support this,” the FEMA administrator responded. “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,” Criswell added. “Any conversations afterward will need to be, we need to see what the damages are.”
Governor DeSantis dismantles a false media narrative before it can take hold.
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 #FloridaStrong (@DeSantisWarRoom) September 28, 2022
Jean-Pierre later released a short statement regarding Biden’s contact with DeSantis, though she once again did not address the reasons why the president had previously refused to contact the Florida governor.
“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,” the press secretary said. “The President and the Governor committed to continued close coordination.”