President Joe Biden will visit destroyed by a hurricane Florida with a promise that federal, state and local governments will work as one to help rebuild homes, businesses and lives – keeping politics quiet for now to focus on those in need.

Hurricane Jan as a result, at least 84 people have been confirmed dead, including 75 in Florida, as hundreds of thousands of people wait for power to be restored. Biden planned to meet with residents and small business owners in Fort Myers, Florida, on Wednesday to thank government officials who are providing emergency relief and debris removal.

With the midterm elections only a month away, the crisis had the potential to unite political rivals in a common cause, at least for a while. Iain’s 150 mph winds and powerful storm surge knocked out power in 2.6 million Florida residents last week. Many people in Florida do not have access to food and water.

According to the White House and Scott’s press secretary, Biden will be joined in Florida by two of his most prominent Republican critics: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Rick Scott. White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre suggested Tuesday that it would be inappropriate to focus on political differences.

“There will be a lot of time, a lot of time, to discuss the differences between the president and the governor — but now is not the time,” Jean-Pierre told reporters at a White House briefing. “When it comes to securing and making sure that the people of Florida have what they need, especially in the wake of Hurricane Ian, we are one. We work as one.”

Biden usually waits to visit a disaster site to ensure that his presence and the fleet of vehicles that accompany him will not interfere with rescue efforts.

Before the storm last week, the president was scheduled to visit the Florida cities of Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, where he planned to highlight his efforts to strengthen Social Security and Medicaid. Biden accused Scott of wanting to end both programs, proposing that the federal laws expire every five years, though the Florida senator has said he wants to keep the programs.

In recent years, Biden and DeSantis have had numerous disagreements over how to deal with COVID-19, immigration policy and more. The two have clashed in recent weeks over the governor’s decision to put migrants on planes or buses into Democratic strongholds, a practice Biden called “reckless.”

The hurricane changed the focus and tone of Biden’s first trip to Florida this year.

DeSantis confirmed Tuesday that he would meet with Biden in the hurricane zone and praised the administration’s Federal Emergency Management Agency for declaring a state of emergency before Yang made landfall.

“It was huge because everyone was going full throttle. They knew they had an opportunity to do it, DeSantis said. – We appreciate it. I think FEMA has worked very well with state and local agencies.”

The White House’s message of bipartisan unity differs from Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, who at times threatened to withhold aid from Democratic officials who criticized him, including Gows. Gavin Newsom from California and Andrew Cuomo from New York. At other times, Trump has appeared insensitive or clumsy in his response to people’s suffering.

Trump threatened to withhold federal money for California after the wildfires, saying state officials were to blame for the deadly fires, tweeting in 2018: “Billions of dollars are spent every year, so many people die, all because of gross forest mismanagement. . Get it right now or no more Fed pay!”

Politicians’ response to natural disasters can make or break a political career.

As Florida’s governor for eight years, Jeb Bush has consistently responded to the hurricane parade and been rewarded with sky-high approval ratings. The more troubled response of President George W. Bush and Louisiana lawmakers to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 still hangs over their legacy.

Former Governor of New Jersey Chris ChristieThe Republican, who welcomed President Barack Obama to his state to survey the damage from Hurricane Sandy days before the 2012 general election, said that during natural disasters, “the best political strategy is not to have a political strategy, to do your job.”

Christie has been targeted by some in his own party who believed his warm welcome to Obama helped shore up the Democrat’s re-election bid, but he has no regrets.

“Fundamentally, that’s what government exists for, is to protect the safety and welfare of the people,” Christie said in an interview Tuesday. “The only thing that should be on the mind of the president, Governor DeSantis, Senator Marco Rubio, is the upheaval and the tragedy that has happened to people’s lives and how we can make it better.”

Christie noted that the comparison to Sandy is inaccurate — Biden has two years to run and DeSantis has weeks, not days, to meet with voters in his re-election bid. But Christie said any attempt to score political points would be condemned at the polls.

“The game within the game is not what it’s about,” Christy said. “It’s a pretty transparent time, and people will get it — it’s not what they want, and they’ll punish you for it.”


Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Seung Min Kim in Washington and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed to this report.