(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — President Joe Biden on Saturday morning offered his first on-camera reaction to his meeting with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis falling through as he surveys Hurricane Idalia damage.
“I don’t know,” Biden said in response to a shouted question as he and the first lady boarded Marine One about what happened with his meeting with the governor. “He’s not going to be there.”
Biden said Saturday morning that his message to DeSantis is: “We’re gonna take care of Florida.”
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell said Saturday that security concerns expressed by DeSantis’ office Friday were not relayed to FEMA staffers.
“I have teams that have been on the ground since I left, and we have heard no concerns over any impact to the communities we’re going to visit today,” Criswell said Saturday.
The official’s comment comes after DeSantis’s office said he would not meet with Biden, citing the disruptive effect a presidential security detail could have on the recovery effort.
“We don’t have any plans for the Governor to meet with the President tomorrow,” DeSantis’ press secretary, Jeremy Redfern, said to ABC News in a statement Friday. “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.”
Asked Saturday morning, “Do you agree with him that the security apparatus isn’t strong enough?” Biden smiled and asked, “Do you?”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Saturday that the invite to the governor still stands.
“Of course he is welcome to be with the president today,” she said.
The two political leaders set aside politics last year when Biden traveled to Florida to survey damage from Hurricane Ian — but that was before DeSantis announced his 2024 campaign.
ABC News has reached out to DeSantis’ office for comment.
Although DeSantis will not be seen with Biden during his visit to the Sunshine State, Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. Kat Cammack, both Florida Republicans, will be.
Scott, who is up for reelection next year, announced on Twitter he would be in Suwannee County with Biden to receive a briefing from local officials and meet with families impacted by Hurricane Idalia. Scott also said he would urge Biden to support his legislation, The Federal Disaster Responsibility Act, adding that Floridians and Americans would benefit from its passage.
ABC News has reached out to Sen. Marco Rubio’s, R-Fla., office to see whether he’ll also join Biden as he tours the state.
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