President Joe Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke Tuesday evening about federal efforts to prepare for Hurricane Ian’s arrival, ending days of speculation about whether the two leaders and political rivals would talk ahead of the storm’s landfall in the state later this week.
In a tweet, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the two men spoke to “discuss the steps the federal government is taking to help Florida prepare for Hurricane Ian.”
The two men, she added, “committed to continued close coordination.”
It was not immediately clear who initiated the conversation or how long the two men spoke. Calls between governors and the president before or after natural disasters are commonplace, though the budding rivalry between the Democrat Biden and Republican DeSantis — widely viewed as a potential 2024 presidential contender — has added extra scrutiny to the conversation.
Jean-Pierre and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell were asked repeatedly during Tuesday’s press briefing why Biden and DeSantis had not yet spoken even as the president called other Florida leaders Tuesday. Biden spoke with the mayors of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater from the Oval Office earlier Tuesday, they said.
Criswell, who was in Miami on Monday preparing for the storm’s arrival, said she had spoken with DeSantis on Friday to discuss how the federal government could aid the state’s response to the storm. She described the coordination between federal and state officials readying for the hurricane as “excellent.”
Asked if the lack of a conversation between Biden and DeSantis impeded efforts to prepare for the storm, Criswell said at the time that it did not.