Former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for not meeting with President Biden while he visited the state Friday to survey hurricane damage, calling the decision “absolutely outrageous.”
The White House told CNN that a meeting between Biden and DeSantis was planned for Friday, but DeSantis’ office later said no such meeting would occur, citing logistical concerns.
“There’s a 1 percent to 2 percent chance it’s logistics. There’s a 98 percent to 99 percent chance it’s the optics,” Kinzinger said in a CNN interview Saturday.
“Ron DeSantis, at the cost of the benefit to Florida, has decided his political campaign cannot have him meet with Joe Biden, the President of the United States, who ultimately will be signing the checks that Florida is going to be begging for,” he continued.
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DeSantis is polling second in the GOP presidential primary race and has harshly criticized Biden on the campaign trail.
“I couldn’t imagine being governor of any state, having a tragedy like that, and then turning around and thinking about how this could affect my election,” Kinzinger said.
Biden signed a disaster declaration for Florida on Thursday, allowing federal aid to flow into the state to help recovery from flooding and wind damage.
DeSantis’ office said security concerns for an office already dealing with hurricane recovery made the meeting too burdensome.
“In these rural communities, and so soon after impact, the security preparations alone that would go into setting up such a meeting would shut down ongoing recovery efforts,” DeSantis spokesman Jeremy Redfern said in a statement.
When asked about a potential meeting with the Florida governor on Saturday, Biden shrugged it off.
“I don’t know. He’s not going to be there,” he said, according to a pool report.
Biden said he and the governor have been in “constant contact” throughout the recovery process from Hurricane Idalia, which ravaged the state’s rural Big Bend region this week. About 60,000 Floridians are still without power as of Saturday.
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