President Biden, Gov. DeSantis set aside politics in hurricane recovery efforts

TALLAHASSEE – Potential 2024 presidential opponents Ron DeSantis and Joe Biden say they have set aside red-blue politics in disaster-recovery efforts.

Discussing federal assistance tied to Hurricane Idalia, the Maui wildfires and other extreme weather related to climate change, Biden on Wednesday said “believe it or not” politics hasn’t come up in phone calls with DeSantis. He said the focus remained on helping victims of the Category 3 Hurricane Idalia, which crashed into the Keaton Beach area in North Florida’s Big Bend earlier in the day.

“I was down there (in Florida) when the last major storm (Hurricane Ian in Sept. 2022),” the president said. “I spent a lot of time with him (DeSantis) walking from community to community, making sure he had what he needed to get done. I think he trusts my judgment and my desire to help. And I trust him to be able to suggest that this is not about politics, this is about taking care of the people of the state.”

Asked a short time later about Biden’s comments while in Perry, DeSantis replied, “We have to deal with supporting the needs of the people who are in harm’s way or have difficulties.”

“And that has got to triumph over any type of short-term political calculation or any type of positioning,” the governor and Republican presidential candidate added. “This is the real deal. You have people’s lives that had been at risk. We don’t necessarily have any confirmed fatalities yet, but that very well may change. And then you have people whose livelihoods have been turned upside down. And so, they need support. So, we’re going to work together from local, state, federal, regardless of party to be able to deliver results for the people in their time of need.”


White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said a Monday morning call between DeSantis and Biden didn’t stray from Hurricane Idalia and the race-based shooting deaths of three Black people Saturday in Jacksonville.

That included no discussion about controversial standards for African American history instruction in Florida schools.

“They kept it to what the readout was,” Jean-Pierre replied when asked if Biden raised his concerns about the curriculum. Readouts are summaries of discussions released by the White House.

“Clearly we are always very careful not to read out private conversation,” Jean-Pierre said. “They talked clearly about the president offering any assistance that the governor might need, as we are talking about the Jacksonville shooting, as you all know and also the storm, Idalia, that’s headed to Florida. That is clearly what’s on everybody’s mind as we see this potential Category 3 storm and as a community is mourning. I don’t have anything else to read out from that call. But, clearly, those are the two kinds of pertinent things at the moment that they were able to discuss.”

The White House and DeSantis have clashed over the history standards approved in July by the State Board of Education.

Vice President Kamala Harris has pressed opposition to the curriculum changes, focusing on part of middle-school standards that require instruction to include “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

“It almost seems ridiculous to have to say … that enslaved people do not benefit from slavery,” Harris said during an Aug. 2 interview on ABC News.

DeSantis has countered that the White House spread misinformation and said in an Aug. 2 interview on Fox News that the part of the standards drawing all the attention is misunderstood.

“That particular passage wasn’t saying that slavery was a benefit,” DeSantis said. “It was saying there was resourcefulness, and people acquired skills in spite of slavery, not because of it.”

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