In Florida, Even A Hurricane Can’t Sweep Away Presidential Politics


“President Biden and the first lady look forward to meeting members of the community impacted by Hurricane Idalia and surveying impacts of the storm,” said Emilie Simons, a deputy press secretary at the White House. “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.”

The discrepancy underscored the tensions between the two politicians, whose campaigns have been lashing out at each other for months. A recent Biden for President email called Mr. DeSantis a politician who oversees an “inflation hot spot” and supports an “extreme MAGA blueprint to undermine democracy.” At the Republican debate last month, Mr. DeSantis said the country is in decline under Mr. Biden and accused Mr. Biden of staying “on the beach” while the people of Maui suffered through devastating fires.

The stakes are high for both men. Mr. Biden has struggled with mediocre approval ratings and arrives in Florida following criticism that his initial response to reporters on the Maui wildfires was a lackluster “no comment.” Mr. DeSantis has seen his polling numbers plummet as his one-time benefactor, former President Donald J. Trump, has become a fierce rival, attacking at every turn.

Jason Pizzo, a Democratic state senator from South Florida, said Mr. DeSantis’s decision smelled like politics.

“Campaign strategy has replaced civility and decorum,” Mr. Pizzo said.

Politicians have been caught out in the past for acting cordial with their opponents.


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