Biden Avoids Speaking to Republican Governors Experiencing States of Emergency

Susan Jones | September 27, 2022 | 5:25am EDT
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President Joe Biden last met with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on July 1, 2021 after the collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building near Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
President Joe Biden last met with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on July 1, 2021 after the collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building near Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

(Update: President Joe Biden finally spoke with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday night, as the devastating storm neared the southwest coast, “to discuss the steps the Federal government is taking to help Florida prepare for Hurricane Ian.")

( - As a major hurricane bears down on Florida, President Biden already has declared a state of emergency, which allows federal agencies to mobilize relief efforts. But he has not spoken to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential political rival.

Nor did the president speak to Mississippi's Republican Gov. Tate Reeves when flooding caused the main water facility in the capital city, Jackson, to fail in late August. (But Biden did phone the Democrat mayor of Jackson.)

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about that on Monday: "Does the President think it's important when you have this nature of a threat to millions and millions of Americans to have a conversation with a governor?" a reporter asked.

"So, look, what the President believes is that it’s important that federal resources is provided for the people of Florida," Jean-Pierre said:

"That is the most important thing — to make sure that we are there for them in this time of need.  And that’s why the President reacted right away to make sure that the — that we are able to surge resources before.  And he did this before landfall.  And so that is the most important thing.

"It’s about the people of Florida; it’s not about public officials, especially in this time.  And so, again, the President, as President of the United States, as President for folks in red states and blue states, he’s going to keep that commitment.

"And you have seen him do that over the course of the 19 months when there has been extreme, extreme events, extreme weather that has happened, again, in blue states and red states.  And he has done his job as President to make sure that we are there for the people in the state."

The reporter followed up, asking: "Is there anything that could stand in the way of the response if a President and a governor might not speak? He didn’t speak to the governor of Mississippi during the water crisis with Jackson," the reporter noted. "Thus far, he has not spoken to Governor DeSantis."

"And so — and that’s a perfect example," Jean-Pierre said:

"When you mentioned the governor of Mississippi, they — you were right, they didn’t speak, and we still were able to deliver for the folks in Jackson and for the folks of Mississippi.  You had our EPA Administrator on the ground.  You had FEMA Administrator on the ground.  And not just them, but also folks who work for those — for those two agencies.  And you had the Army Corps of Engineers.

"And so we put the full — the full power of the administration.  We surged resources on the ground to make sure that we did everything that we can to help the people of Mississippi.  This is the same; there’s no difference here.  We’re going to do the same in Florida as we’ve done in other — in other states.

"As I mentioned, (FEMA) Administrator Criswell will be here tomorrow.  She is in Miami, as we speak, current — as I speak currently.  And she’ll be here, and she will lay out what we, as an administration, is doing for Florida and other — and other — and other states, like Alaska and any others that need our assistance at this time.  And — and she’ll lay that out and answer any questions that you all may have."

President Biden lately has seized every opportunity to slam the people he calls "MAGA Republicans."

"Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic," Biden said on Sept. 1 in his "soul of the nation" speech in Philadelphia.

"Now, I want to be very clear — very clear up front: Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans.  Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology.

"I know because I’ve been able to work with these mainstream Republicans. But there is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country."

This is the same Joe Biden who touted "unity" in his presidential campaign; and the same Joe Biden who, as president, often includes lines like this one in his speeches: "There is not a single thing America cannot do — not a single thing beyond our capacity if we do it together."


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