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President Biden, Gov. DeSantis touched base ahead of Hurricane Ian arrival

The two men are political rivals.
President Joe Biden speaks during a celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to mark Disability Pride Month, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Washington.
President Joe Biden speaks during a celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to mark Disability Pride Month, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Washington. [ EVAN VUCCI | AP ]
Published Sep. 28|Updated Sep. 28

President Joe Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke Tuesday evening about federal efforts to prepare for Hurricane Ian’s arrival, ending days of speculation about whether the two leaders and political rivals would talk ahead of the storm’s landfall in the state later this week.

In a tweet, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the two men spoke to “discuss the steps the federal government is taking to help Florida prepare for Hurricane Ian.”

Related: Hurricane Ian puts pause on Florida midterm politics and DeSantis, Biden tension

The two men, she added, “committed to continued close coordination.”

It was not immediately clear who initiated the conversation or how long the two men spoke. Calls between governors and the president before or after natural disasters are commonplace, though the budding rivalry between the Democrat Biden and Republican DeSantis — widely viewed as a potential 2024 presidential contender — has added extra scrutiny to the conversation.

Jean-Pierre and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell were asked repeatedly during Tuesday’s press briefing why Biden and DeSantis had not yet spoken even as the president called other Florida leaders Tuesday.

Related: Wednesday live updates: Hurricane Ian coming ashore as 155 mph Category 4 storm

Biden spoke with the mayors of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater from the Oval Office earlier Tuesday, they said.

Criswell, who was in Miami on Monday preparing for the storm’s arrival, said she had spoken with DeSantis on Friday to discuss how the federal government could aid the state’s response to the storm.

She described the coordination between federal and state officials readying for the hurricane as “excellent.” Asked if the lack of a conversation between Biden and DeSantis impeded efforts to prepare for the storm, Criswell said at the time that it did not.

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2022 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

ROAD CLOSURES: What to know about bridges, roads as Hurricane Ian approaches.

HOW TO TALK TO KIDS ABOUT THE HURRICANE: A school mental health expert says to let them know what’s happening, keep a routine and stay calm.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN A SHELTER: What to bring — and not bring — plus information on pets, keeping it civil and more.

WHAT TO DO IF HURRICANE DAMAGES YOUR HOME: Stay calm, then call your insurance company.

SAFEGUARD YOUR HOME: Storms and property damage go hand in hand. Here’s how to prepare.

IT'S STORM SEASON: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.

RISING THREAT: Tampa Bay will flood. Here's how to get ready.

DOUBLE-CHECK: Checklists for building all kinds of hurricane kits

PHONE IT IN: Use your smartphone to protect your data, documents and photos.

SELF-CARE: Protect your mental health during a hurricane.

• • •

Rising Threat: A special report on flood risk and climate change

PART 1: The Tampa Bay Times partnered with the National Hurricane Center for a revealing look at future storms.

PART 2: Even weak hurricanes can cause huge storm surges. Experts say people don't understand the risk.

PART 3: Tampa Bay has huge flood risk. What should we do about it?

INTERACTIVE MAP: Search your Tampa Bay neighborhood to see the hurricane flood risk.

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