In a CNN appearance Friday, Kinzinger criticized the Florida governor, who had expressed logistical concerns over Biden’s trip to survey hurricane damage and remarked that the visit could be “very disruptive.”
“There’s a 1 to 2% chance it’s logistics, there’s a 98 to 99% chance it’s the optics,” Kinzinger told CNN’s John Berman.
Earlier in the week, Biden indicated that he and DeSantis were communicating so often that there should be a “direct dial” between the two, The Associated Press reported.
But after Biden said he was set to meet DeSantis, the Florida governor’s office on Friday pointed to “security preparations alone” that would contribute to shutting down recovery efforts.
The GOP presidential candidate not meeting with Biden marks a change from past post-disaster visits as the president and DeSantis met following Hurricane Ian last year and the 2021 collapse of the Surfside condo near Miami Beach.
Kinzinger told Berman that politics has “infected everything” at the moment, whereas a decade ago he saw officials putting “politics aside.”
“And 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,” Kinzinger added.
“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. It just — it’s where we’re at now, and people have to just reject that,” he said.
Biden, when asked what message he had for DeSantis on Saturday, declared “we’re going to take care of Florida.”
The president heard from a number of Florida officials who praised him and first lady Jill Biden for offering support to the Sunshine State. One was Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who referred to the federal government’s efforts as a “big deal” for the state.