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Biden is touring Hurricane Idalia damage. But DeSantis doesn't have plans to meet him

Gov. Ron DeSantis arrives for a press conference in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia on Thursday in Steinhatchee, Fla.
Sean Rayford
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Getty Images
Gov. Ron DeSantis arrives for a press conference in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia on Thursday in Steinhatchee, Fla.

Updated September 2, 2023 at 1:47 PM ET

President Biden arrived in Florida on Saturday to survey damage after a powerful hurricane made landfall in the state's Big Bend region, but politics are threatening to overshadow the visit.

The state's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — who is seeking the Republican nomination to face off against Biden in the 2024 presidential election — does not plan to meet with Biden on the ground, as is customary after a natural disaster.

"We don't have any plans for the governor to meet with the president tomorrow," Jeremy Redfern, the governor's press secretary, said in a statement on Friday night.

"In these rural communities, and so soon after impact, the security preparations alone that would go into setting up such a meeting would shut down ongoing recovery efforts," Redfern said.

In October 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis joined President Biden to meet with people in Fort Myers, Fla., who had been hit hard by Hurricane Ian.
Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
In October 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis joined President Biden to meet with people in Fort Myers, Fla., who had been hit hard by Hurricane Ian.

DeSantis and Biden have spoken regularly during the preparations for Hurricane Idalia, and in the storm's aftermath, as communities work to recover. Last year, when Biden visited Fort Myers, Fla. in the wake of Hurricane Ian, the two leaders put their political differences aside and visited affected residents together.

On Friday night, White House spokesperson Emilie Simons said Biden would travel with first lady Jill Biden and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell to Live Oak, Fla. — and emphasized that the trip would not affect local recovery efforts.

"Their visit to Florida has been planned in close coordination with FEMA as well as state and local leaders to ensure there is no impact on response operations," Simons said.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ashley Lopez
Ashley Lopez is a political correspondent for NPR based in Austin, Texas. She joined NPR in May 2022. Prior to NPR, Lopez spent more than six years as a health care and politics reporter for KUT, Austin's public radio station. Before that, she was a political reporter for NPR Member stations in Florida and Kentucky. Lopez is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in Miami, Florida.
Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.

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