President Biden on Saturday praised Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) while visiting Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia after he was snubbed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“I’m very pleased, the guy who we don’t agree very much at all, the distinguished former governor and senior senator, he came, talked about to me and to you all [about] what an incredible job the federal government was doing and I found that reassuring,” Biden said in remarks in Live Oak, Fla. “And, so, I think we can pull all of this together, I really do.”
Biden was referring to Scott, who met with him earlier that day to discuss hurricane response efforts. Biden told reporters he wasn’t disappointed that DeSantis didn’t join the visit.
“No, I’m not disappointed. He may have had other reasons,” the president said. “But he did help us plan this, he sat with FEMA and decided where we should go, where it would be the least disruptive.”
The president also noted that he’s “been in touch” with DeSantis, not elaborating.
DeSantis’ office on Friday said the governor didn’t have plans to meet with Biden, claiming having the two meet up could put strain on the state’s disaster response. While leaving the White House for Florida, Biden told reporters that he didn’t’ know what happened with him meeting DeSantis.
“I don’t know. He’s not going to be there” Biden said. The two mutually agreed upon the location for the president’s visit earlier this week and the DeSantis team did not give any more detailed reasons for why he declined to show up and did not tell FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell before going public.
“What I can say is that I know that the governor and the President spoke while I was on the ground with the governor on Thursday, and the governor gave no indication at that time that he would not be meeting with the President,” Criswell said.
“Of course, he is welcome to be with the President today,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre added.
Meanwhile, Scott and Biden complimented one another back and forth while on the ground.
“Can I just say something real quick about what the President has done? First off, the President did a great a job with the early declaration before the storm hit the coast,” Scott said. “That was a big deal. It helped all these first responders.”
“And then how fast you approved through FEMA the individual assistance, the public assistance.. It was a big people deal,” he continued “These are not rich communities. Many of them struggle… I want to thank you for doing that very quickly.”
Biden responded, “I want to thank the senator. He gave me all the information I needed. I told him we are here for as long as it takes.”
The two have had a rocky relationship in the last year.
The president has often bashed policy proposals released last year by Scott in which the senator proposed sunsetting government programs like Social Security and Medicare every five years. Biden has taken aim at Scott in multiple speeches over his views on the programs and has given out pamphlets of Scott’s plan to remarks for audience members to read.