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  • President Joe Biden met with FL Gov. Ron DeSantis to survey the damage in the state after Hurricane Ian.
  • The two set their political rivalries mostly aside as they pledged to help Floridians recover.
  • Biden quipped that the “biggest thing” DeSantis has done is recognize climate change.

President Joe Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis met Wednesday in the Fort Meyers area to survey the extensive damage from Hurricane Ian, which killed more than 70 people in the latest death toll, ravaged entire communities, and mobilized a massive ongoing search-and-rescue effort.

The two political opponents set their differences mostly aside during the visit, sharing cordial handshakes as they pledged to help Floridians recover from the damage, which Biden said would take “years.”

“We have very different political philosophies, but we’ve worked hand in glove,” Biden told reporters at a Wednesday press conference. “In dealing with this crisis, we’ve been in complete lockstep.”

Even so, their rivalry was briefly apparent at times during the visit. Biden took a slight dig at DeSantis, saying the governor did something “remarkable” by recognizing climate change is real, contrary to some of the GOP’s lack of support to address the climate crisis.

“The biggest thing the governor has done … [is] recognized there’s this thing called global warming,” Biden said. “The world is changing.”

 

It’s unclear when DeSantis publicly attributed Hurricane Ian to climate change, but the Florida governor has been careful to avoid using the phrase and said it’s often “a pretext to do a bunch of left-wing things.” In August, DeSantis also banned the consideration of climate change when making investment decisions for the state’s pension fund.

DeSantis spokesperson Jeremy Redfern told Insider he wasn’t sure which comment Biden was referencing. He pointed to a statement from the governor that referenced a state program, Resilient Florida, which has allowed residents to improve their infrastructure and how it may have protected communities from extensive damage from the hurricane, but the spokesperson said it was “not about global warming.”

DeSantis praised the Biden administration in the beginning of his Wednesday remarks before he also made a quick political swipe by pointing out the limitations of government assistance and touting the flexibility of private aid.

“As much as we appreciate all the state agencies that are offering assistance, FEMA that can offer assistance, those are based on regulation and law, and there’s some people that may not fit into those wickets,” the Florida governor said.

“Well, we now have mobilized private charities with a lot of money — and growing — to be able to help people in really tough circumstances,” DeSantis added, thanking local and state agencies, as well as the Biden administration, for the “team effort.”

A spokesperson for Biden did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Search-and-rescue teams have so far knocked on 70,000 doors and rescued more than 3,800 people, Biden said. In Lee County, more than 24,000 structures have been examined, with about 4,000 personnel on the ground.

As of Wednesday, about 310,000 homes and business were still without power, a week since Hurricane Ian first made landfall on Florida’s west coast, according to Reuters.

The White House on Wednesday approved Florida’s request to extend federal assistance for debris removal and emergency protective measures.

“Today, we have one job and only one job,” Biden said, “and that’s to make sure that people in Florida get everything they need to fully, thoroughly recover.”





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