US President Joe Biden visited the areas most devastated by Hurricane Ian in Florida on Wednesday, which resulted in nearly a hundred deaths, and in addition to offering aid to victims and reconstruction, his trip was also high political tension because he entered the territory where Donald Trump lives and where another bitter opponent rules almost a month before the legislative elections in the United States.
Accompanied by his wife Jill, Biden landed in Fort Myers, in the southwest of the state, one of the areas most affected by the hurricane that last week devastated entire areas and became one of the deadliest in Florida history, as the president. he had foreseen.
The media have already counted more than 100 dead and rescuers continue to search house to house and remove debris to find people who are still missing.
The death toll is expected to rise. Many of the Floridians are recently arrived residents – due to the pandemic and low taxes – and have no experience in dealing with such a common drama in this state.
In Lee County, the county with the most deaths, they criticize the evacuation order not being anticipated sufficiently and many ignore it.
Biden toured the affected areas by helicopter, full of Houses destroyed, streets full of holes, bridges destroyed and areas still isolated from the flood.
Hundreds of thousands of Floridians were still powerless, and officials have said it will take months as well $ 50 billion, possibly more, to rebuild coastal areas devastated.
The president and first lady also received information from federal, state and local authorities on rescue and recovery efforts in the affected areas and also met with hurricane-affected neighbors and business owners.
Match with your opponent
In this context, a meeting of great political importance took place because the agenda was understood a meeting with the governor of the state, Republican Ron DeSantis, who is one of the leading exponents of “Trumpism” in the United States and today the strongest candidate of the opposition in the presidential elections of 2024, if Trump decides not to run.
But in just over a month there are legislative elections and DeSantis is also seeking his re-election as governor against Democrat Charlie Crist, who, according to polls, leads by 10 points. Another important state senator, the republican Marco Rubio, also wants to renew his mandate.
A 44-year-old ultra-conservative, DeSantis is highly controversial and a fierce critic of President Biden, whom he regards as a socialist leader. He opposed the White House health stance on the pandemic and opposed the closure of businesses and the mandatory use of face masks.
supporter of a hard line on immigrationhe did not hesitate weeks ago to send immigrants from Florida to the luxurious and progressive Martha’s Vineyard, a “political maneuver” that the White House called “cruel.”
He also criticized federal aid when disasters occurred in other states. But this time he accepted it without hesitation. The White House, in fact, has announced that it will give new impetus to Florida by doubling the time, initially set at one month, during which the federal state will finance the costs of removing debris and urgent work.
After the devastating passage of the hurricane, they both lowered the decibels. They spoke on the phone and coordinated assistance to the victims. The White House has anticipated that in their meeting they will put aside differences and focus on what’s best for Florida.
“Today we only have one task,” Biden said in a post-meeting message. The priority is the recovery of the state, which could “take years” to repair the damage. “We have seen a great collaboration” from the beginning, she added. “This is America together,” she said.
They know that every misstep can be fatal because the Sunshine State is always key in political campaigns. Republicans cannot win the presidential election without Florida and its 29 electoral votes. Trump won over Biden in 2020 with only 51% of the vote.
Hurricanes also played an important role in politics. During the 1992 presidential election, Democratic candidate Bill Clinton visited South Florida to visit the wreckage of Hurricane Andrew as he and others criticized President George HW Bush’s response to the disaster.
Bush ended up winning Florida, but lost the national election to Clinton, who supported the state in his 1996 re-election candidacy. Barack Obama and Joe Biden won Florida in 2008 and 2012.
George W. Bush, whose narrow victory in Florida gave him the presidency in 2000, repeatedly visited hurricane damage in Florida after a series of storms hit the state during his 2004 re-election run.
He was often accompanied by his brother, then Florida Governor Jeb Bush. George Bush won Florida in 2004 with 5 percentage points over John Kerry on the way to a second term.