Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been hard at work raising his profile within the national Republican Party.
Between base-boosting moves like fighting big tech over banning conservative politicians, and even sending National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border, DeSantis is doing a lot to pop up on the radars of would-be GOP primary backers come 2024.
That is what makes his appearance with President Joe Biden in Miami Beach on Thursday so noteworthy.
Both leaders stated the visit would be apolitical, and it certainly was. After all, Biden is there to mark one week since the deadly Surfside condo collapse. The devastating structural failure, which so far has resulted in 18 confirmed deaths with another 145 people still unaccounted for, could become the deadliest non-intentional building collapse in American history. Not a place to play partisan politics.
Yet it would have been just as easy for DeSantis to conveniently have something else on his schedule during Biden’s visit, preventing him from being photographed with the Democratic president. Instead, he joined a midday briefing alongside the President and even offered praise for Biden.
“You recognized the severity of this tragedy from day one and you’ve been very supportive,” DeSantis said during Thursday’s briefing.
Biden also had positive things to say about their working relationship: “You know what’s good about this?” Biden said. “We live in a nation where we can cooperate. And it’s really important.”
If this interaction seems otherwise harmless, don’t forget there is a blueprint for an unsuccessful visit between a GOP governor and a Democratic president. When President Barack Obama visited New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy devastated the area in late October 2012, Gov. Chris Christie embraced the President as cameras snapped away and effusively praised Obama’s response.
The image backfired on Christie – with the election roughly a week away, Republicans were furious, and some ill will even lingered into the 2016 cycle as Christie considered his own presidential bid.
The Point: DeSantis got a moment on the national stage during Biden’s Florida visit, and despite his recent made-for-2024 moves as governor, he left the politics out of it.