White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended President Joe Biden’s lack of communication with Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over Hurricane Ian.
NBC News senior White House correspondent Kelly O’Donnell asked Jean-Pierre if the president believes it is important to communicate with DeSantis regarding a potential crisis from the hurricane traveling toward Central and Northwest Florida. The press secretary said the administration is able to provide for people in crisis without communicating with local politicians.
“What the president believes is it is important that federal resources is provided for the people of Florida,” the press secretary said. “That is the most important thing. To make sure that we are there for them in this time of need and that’s why the president reacted right away to make sure that we are able to surge resources before and he did this before landfall.”
“So that is the most important thing, it’s about the people of Florida, it’s not about public officials especially in this time and so again, as President of the United States, as president of 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 19 months where there have been extreme events, extreme weather again, in red states and blue states, and he has done his job as president to make sure that we are there for the people in the state.”
The reporter then asked if the lack of communication between DeSantis and Biden would compromise relief efforts. She pointed out that Biden did not speak to Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves during the recent water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, which left residents with unsafe drinking water or a lack of running water.
“And so that’s a perfect example, Kelly O, when you mention the governor of Mississippi. 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,” Jean-Pierre responded. “You had our EPA administrator on the ground, you had FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] administrators on the ground and not just them but also folks who work for those two agencies. And you had the Army Corps. of Engineers. So you had 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 folks of Mississippi. This is the same, there’s no difference here.” (RELATED: Forecasters Warn Major Storm To Hit Florida In Coming Days)
The National Hurricane Center said the storm currently has maximum sustained winds of 85 miles-per-hour moving north-northwest at 13 mph, according to the Orlando Sentinel. DeSantis said 5,000 members of the Florida National Guard and 2,000 more from neighboring states have been deployed to prepare for the hurricane’s impact.
Biden issued a state of emergency Saturday as the storm inches closer to the Floridian shores, The Hill reported. His declaration directs FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide federal emergency relief to the people of Florida.
The Florida governor has also expanded a state of emergency initially intended for certain counties to include the whole state, The Hill reported.