With the midterm elections just a month away, the crisis is likely to drag along political rivals for a common goal at least for a while.
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will visit hurricane-ravaged Florida with a pledge that federal, state and local governments will work as one to help rebuild homes, businesses and lives – placing politics into silence now to focus on those in need.
Hurricane Ian has left at least 84 people confirmed dead, including 75 in Florida, as hundreds of thousands of people wait for power to be restored. Biden was scheduled to meet with residents and small business owners Wednesday in Fort Myers, Florida, and to thank government officials for providing emergency aid and removing debris.
With the midterm elections just a month away, the crisis is likely to drag along political rivals for a common goal at least for a while. Ian’s 150 mph winds and punitive high tide last week knocked out power for 2.6 million people in Florida. Many people in Florida do not have access to food and water.
Joining Biden in Florida will be two of his most prominent Republican critics: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Rick Scott, according to White House spokesman and Scott. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre suggested on Tuesday that it would be inappropriate for them to focus on political differences.
“There will be a lot of time, a lot of time to discuss the difference between presidents and governors – but now is not the time,” Jean-Pierre told reporters at a meeting at the White House. “When it comes to providing and ensuring that Floridans have what they need, especially after Hurricane Ian, we are one. We are working as one”.
Biden often waits to visit disaster sites, to make sure his presence and the fleet of vehicles traveling with him won’t hinder rescue efforts.
Before the storm made landfall, the president had planned to visit the Florida cities of Orlando and Fort Lauderdale last week, where he planned to emphasize efforts to boost Social Security and Medicaid. Biden has accused Scott of wanting to end both programs by suggesting that federal law should expire every five years, even though the Florida senator has said he wants to preserve the programs.
Biden and DeSantis have had countless differences in recent years over how to combat COVID-19, immigration policy and more. In recent weeks, they have disputed the governor’s decision to put migrants on planes or buses to Democratic strongholds, a practice Biden called “reckless.”
The storm changed the purpose and tone of Biden’s first trip to Florida this year.
DeSantis confirmed Tuesday that he would meet Biden in the stormy area, and he praised the administration’s Federal Emergency Management Agency for declaring a state of emergency before Ian made landfall.
“It’s huge because everyone is ahead. They know they can afford to do it,” DeSantis said, “We appreciate that. I think FEMA has worked very well with the state and the locality. “
The White House’s message of bipartisan unity marks a departure from Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, who threatened to cut aid to Democratic officials who had criticized him. including Govs. Gavin Newsom in California and Andrew Cuomo in New York. At other times, Trump has appeared insensitive or clumsy in his response to people’s suffering.
Trump threatened to withhold federal money from California in the wake of the wildfires, saying their state officials were responsible for the deadly fires, tweeting in 2018: “Billions of dollars given every day years, with so many lives lost, all due to inefficient forest management. Fix it now, or the Fed won’t pay again!”
Politicians’ responses to natural disasters have the potential to make or break political careers.
As governor of Florida for eight years, Jeb Bush maintained a steady response to the parade of hurricanes and was rewarded with sky-high approval ratings. The tougher response of President George W. Bush and Louisiana lawmakers to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 still clings to their legacies.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the Republican who welcomed President Barack Obama to his state to survey the damage from Hurricane Sandy just days before the 2012 general election, said that in the natural disaster “the best political strategy is no political strategy, your job.”
Christie has been the target of some in his party, who believe his warm welcome to Obama helped cement the Democratic Party’s re-election, but he has no regrets.
“At its core, this is the purpose of government, which is to protect the safety and welfare of the people,” Christie said in an interview on Tuesday. “The only thing that should be in the mind of the president, in the mind of Governor DeSantis, in the mind of (Senator) Marco Rubio is the chaos and tragedy that has befallen the lives of people and how we can make it better.”
Christie noted that the comparisons to Sandy are inaccurate – Biden is two years away from becoming a candidate, and DeSantis has weeks, not days, to face voters in his re-election bid. me. But Christie said any attempt to score politically would be discouraged at the polls.
Christie said: “Games are not her business. “This is a pretty transparent time and people will get it – that’s not what they want, and they’ll punish you for it.”
Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Seung Min Kim in Washington and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this report.
https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/biden-hurricane-ian-florida/507-a1c642f6-7acf-45c8-baf4-8dfd2edde928 Biden to visit hurricane-ravaged Florida