Biden and DeSantis haven't spoken directly as Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida

The White House insisted political tensions between the two are not an issue.

September 26, 2022, 4:50 PM

Ahead of Hurricane Ian's expected landfall in Florida, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday that President Joe Biden has yet to speak directly with GOP Gov. Ron Desantis.

"We don't have any calls to preview or that's locked into there, at this time," Jean-Pierre said when asked by ABC Chief White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega.

Jean-Pierre insisted that the politically tense relationship between the two men is not at issue.

"It's about the people of Florida. It's not about public officials, especially in this time. And so again, the president, as president of the United States, as president for -- for folks in red states and blue states, he's going to keep that commitment. And you have seen him do that over the course of the 19 months when there has been extreme -- extreme events, extreme weather that has happened again in blue states and red states," she said.

President Joe Biden speaks at a ceremony honoring the 2021 World Series champion Atlanta Braves in the East Room at The White House in Washington, D.C.
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

When another reporter pointed out that President Biden never spoke with Mississippi GOP Gov. Tate Reeves during the height of Jackson's water crisis, Jean-Pierre said the administration showed up for Mississippians, even without a Biden call to Reeves.

"When you mentioned the governor of Mississippi, they, you’re right, they didn't speak and we still were able to deliver for the folks in Jackson and for the folks of Mississippi. You had our EPA administrator on the ground, you had FEMA administrator on the ground and not just them, but also folks who work for those -- for those two agencies. And you have the Army Corps of Engineers. And so we put the full -- the full power of the administration. We surged resources on the ground, to make sure that we did everything that we can to help the people of Mississippi. This is the same, there's no difference here," she insisted.

Gov. Ron DeSantis held a press conference as Florida awaits Hurricane Ian's arrival, at the Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center on Sept. 26, 2022, in Largo, Fla.
Angelica Edwards/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire

She did say that FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, who was in Miami Monday, will appear in the White House briefing room Tuesday to provide an update.

"FEMA has prepositioned supplies at strategic locations in Florida and also Alabama. That includes generators, millions of meals and millions of liters of water. FEMA also has staff on the ground supporting planning and preparation efforts. Tomorrow, Administrator Criswell will provide an update on the efforts underway in Florida -- Florida to prepare for Hurricane Ian as well as ongoing recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and also Alaska," Jean-Pierre said.

Biden has declared a state of emergency exists in Florida and has ordered federal aid to supplement state efforts.

An unrelated Biden trip to Florida scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed because of the storm.