“I promise you,” the president replied, “there will be none.”
Their exchanges offered further insight into the governing partnership between Biden and DeSantis, a closely scrutinized dynamic as Florida’s first responders and officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency continue search and rescue efforts.
From a political perspective, too, Biden and DeSantis’ personal interactions on the president’s trip to Florida had been highly anticipated. DeSantis, a former conservative congressman, ascended to the governor’s office in 2018 with Trump’s endorsement, and he has remained a staunch ally of the former president.
More recently, however, DeSantis’ surging popularity within the Republican Party — attributed largely to his state’s pandemic response and combative style — has prompted the governor to take steps aimed at avoiding Trump’s wrath and deflecting speculation about a potential 2024 presidential run.
Meanwhile, DeSantis has kept up his criticisms of Biden administration policies on issues ranging from migration at the southern border to the $1.9 trillion stimulus package signed into law in March.
And although the White House and the governor’s office have clashed over coronavirus vaccine distribution and other priorities, such signs of disagreement were not on display when the president visited Surfside on Thursday.
Resting his hand on DeSantis’ arm, Biden said the governor and Mayor Charles Burkett “have been completely open with me” in navigating the crisis, and he indicated it was likely the federal government would be able “to pick up 100 percent of the costs” associated with Florida’s emergency response.
“There’s going to be a lot of pain and anxiety and suffering and even the need for psychological help in the days and months that follow,” Biden said. “And so, we’re not going anywhere. For real.”