(As originally published with bells and whistles, Fri, February 18th 2022, 9:52 AM EST)
FORT MYERS, Fla. (CBS12) — Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference in Fort Myers to discuss tornado assistance to Southwest Florida — but he had DC politics on his mind, Friday morning.
The governor talked about supporting victims of the Jan. 16 tornadoes and said, “We want to maximize the amount of support that we can get.”
Then he mentioned the decision he learned about earlier this week. DeSantis said the Biden administration denied the state’s request for individual assistance to help Floridians displaced by the tornadoes.
It was actually FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and it came in the form of a letter dated Tuesday from FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell to Gov. DeSantis.
Part of it reads, “It has been determined that the damage from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies. … Therefore, I must inform you that your request for a major disaster declaration is denied.”
It did say help may be available through other federal agencies and/or volunteer organizations, and FEMA will coordinate with the state to find more damage information to support an appeal.
DeSantis said he directed the state’s Division of Emergency Management to appeal, and that the state would continue to fight to help the victims in Lee and Charlotte counties.
DeSantis said the issue should be above politics, but “Since Biden has been president, it seems like whatever they can do to thumb their nose at Florida, you know they try to do it.”
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Then, after a moment of applause from supporters, he immediately launched into the subject of monoclonal antibody treatment.
“They cut our monoclonal antibody treatment funding at the end of last summer when we had helped tens of thousands of Floridians stay out of hospitals.”
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The governor also mentioned signing a prescription drug bill he’d worked on with President Trump to buy medications for less money from Canada.
He said, “It’s still sitting around Washington and has not been approved by the Biden administration.”
DeSantis is spoken of as a potential 2024 presidential candidate, but he has maintained he is focused on his reelection in November.