Another hurricane, another rare moment when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Joe Biden are actually speaking.
It only took Category 3 Hurricane Idalia to do it. The bipartisanship may be unusual, but it isn’t entirely unprecedented: Last year, DeSantis and Biden did the same for Hurricane Ian, with its estimated $112 billion in damage on Florida’s West Coast.
This time, though, Biden and DeSantis are both running to be president in 2024. And DeSantis, certainly, spends much of his time on the campaign trail attacking Biden and the policies of his administration, especially on things like border security. His inflammatory words about “slitting throats” in Washington if he’s elected president probably haven’t helped relations in D.C., either.
At least DeSantis had the good sense to pause his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination as the storm menaced the state.
But it turns out the vast political divide in this country still can be bridged. It’s good to see the swords being sheathed long enough to cooperate for the good of the people who need assistance after the storm. Biden said he spoke with DeSantis by phone on Thursday about signing a major disaster declaration in the wake of Idalia.
Biden said politics didn’t play a role in their discussion. He added that he understood that might sound strange given “the nature of politics today.”
“I think he trusts my judgment and my desire to help, and I trust him to be able to suggest this is not about politics, this is about taking care of the people of his state,” said Biden, speaking from the White House.
Biden plans to visit Florida Saturday to see the federal response to the devastation in parts of the state’s Big Bend region. It was unclear whether Biden would meet with DeSantis, but it seemed possible. Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall told reporters the two have met in the past when the president has visited the state after a disaster: “They are very collegial,” she said.
Not words we would normally expect to hear about a Democratic president running for reelection and a Republican vying for his job, but we’ll take it. The biggest thing now is how the damaged areas will recover and how the state’s tottering home-insurance market will cope.
DeSantis and Biden will both, no doubt, capitalize on the catastrophe. DeSantis, who has been dropping in polls, can showcase his take-charge skills as governor of the third-largest state. Biden can remind voters of the power of the federal government in moments like this.
But cooperation, no matter how much it may be for the cameras, is still important. Sometimes, it takes a disaster to remind us.
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