Former White House communications director Kate Bedingfield on Friday called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s decision to forego a meeting with President Biden during his trip to the Sunshine State “small and petty.”
“It is a really unfortunate time for Ron DeSantis to choose to be small and petty,” Bedingfield said on CNN. “This is a moment where people are hurting, they want to see their leaders, they want to hear from them. It’s a moment to put partisanship aside.”
Biden announced on Thursday during a surprise visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) headquarters that he would visit Florida over the weekend to survey the damage left by Hurricane Idalia — which was quickly downgraded to a tropical storm as it move inland toward Georgia and the Carolinas — on the state’s Gulf Coast. He also suggested that he would meet with DeSantis.
On Friday, however, DeSantis’s office said the governor had “no plans” to meet with the president during his trip. His spokesman suggested a meeting would cause logistical problems with the state’s disaster response.
“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,” DeSantis spokesman Jeremy Redfern said in a statement.
Idalia made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane Wednesday morning in Florida’s Big Bend area. When asked about DeSantis’ apparent snub, Biden said he wasn’t sure what happened.
“I don’t know. He’s not going to be there,” he said Saturday, according to the pool report.
Bedingfield, like others, questioned what made this trip different than the ones Biden took in 2021 after the collapse of an apartment building and in 2022 after Hurricane Ian struck the country. The former Biden aide suggested it could be political — as both men are in the 2024 race for the White House.
“The only thing that’s changed, about this year, versus last year, when President Biden was there, in the wake of Hurricane Ian, is that Ron DeSantis is struggling, in a Republican presidential primary,” she said.
“It’s unfortunate that Ron DeSantis is choosing to do this,” Bedingfield added. “But I don’t think we should kid ourselves that this is about anything but politics for him.”
Source: The Hill