President Biden and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have been known for their less-than-friendly attitudes toward each other. However, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, the two rivals were able to shake hands and set aside their differences for a brief moment. In a press conference, President Biden and Governor DeSantis only had warm words for each other, giving a rare glimpse of bipartisan cooperation in a divided America.
October 5, 2022
US President Joe Biden and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have briefly set aside their political differences to tour damage from Hurricane Ian.
After seeing the storm wreckage by helicopter, Mr Biden shook hands with the Republican rising star and they complimented each other.
At least 108 people were killed by Ian, a category four storm. Mr Biden said Florida’s recovery may take years.
Officials are searching buildings for more victims as crews begin repairs.
The president and the Florida governor have previously clashed over pandemic policies, climate change, abortion and LGBT issues.
Most recently Mr Biden slammed Mr DeSantis for flying undocumented migrants to the wealthy liberal enclave of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
But on Wednesday the two had only warm words for one another as they focused on hurricane relief during a joint press conference in the city of Fort Myers.
Mr DeSantis, who is widely expected to run for president in 2024, and his wife met Mr Biden and First Lady Jill Biden on a wharf littered with storm debris.
Mr DeSantis thanked the Bidens for coming to Florida, and said he had been “very fortunate” to have good co-ordination with the federal government.
Mr Biden told reporters that Mr DeSantis had done a “good job”, and that “we have very different political philosophies, but we’ve worked hand in glove”.
“What the governor’s done is pretty remarkable,” Mr Biden said, adding that he had “recognised there’s a thing called global warming”.
Mr DeSantis has backed funding to harden Florida’s defences against flooding, but has also argued in the past that global warming is being used as a pretext “to do a bunch of left-wing things”.
Mr Biden said on Wednesday the debate over whether climate change is happening had finally ended.
“More fires have burned in the west and the south-west, burned everything right to the ground, than in the entire state of New Jersey, as much room as that takes up,” the president said.
“The reservoirs out west here are down to almost zero. We’re in a situation where the Colorado River looks more like a stream.”
Meanwhile, Mr DeSantis received praise from another potential White House rival.
At an event in Miami, former President Donald Trump lauded his response to the hurricane, saying: “God bless our governor.”
Mr Trump and his former protege have been circling each other warily ahead of a widely anticipated duel for the 2024 Republican White House nomination.
Over 278,000 homes and businesses in Florida did not have electricity on Wednesday a week after Hurricane Ian made landfall, according to website poweroutage.us.
A temporary road to the hard-hit Pine Island – population 9,000 – opened ahead of schedule. But Sanibel Island is still cut off.
Officials say the death toll from Hurricane Ian may rise as more victims are identified.
The family of a mother of four from Ohio say she died after travelling to Fort Myers to celebrate her 40th birthday.
Nishelle Harris-Miles became trapped in an Airbnb rental as floodwaters in the home pushed her towards the ceiling and a nail pierced her main artery, according to local media.