The 2024 election overshadowed President Joe Biden's trip to Florida on Saturday to survey hurricane relief efforts, as the state's governor and White House hopeful Ron DeSantis snubbed the visiting commander in chief.
"I don't know. He's not going to be there," Biden said when asked what happened to a meeting with DeSantis that the president had previously confirmed to reporters.
DeSantis' office told US media on Friday the security requirements of a presidential visit would cause too much disruption to recovery efforts and there were no plans for the pair to meet.
"We want to make sure that the power restoration continues, that the relief efforts continue," DeSantis told a news conference.
Biden visited the city of Live Oak on Saturday, surveying damage via helicopter before meeting first responders and local officials at an elementary school.
Large trees, broken limbs and tattered signs littered the side of the motorcade route, a testament to the power of the storm that hit the Florida coast Wednesday as an "extremely dangerous" hurricane, killing one person in Florida and one in Georgia.
The president and first lady Jill Biden met with evacuated residents at the school, shaking hands and taking photos with the storm victims.
"As I told your governor, if there's anything your state needs, I'm ready to mobilize that support," Biden said at a news conference afterward. "Your nation has your back, and we'll be with you until the job is done."
DeSantis is bidding for the Republican party's nomination to be its candidate in the 2024 White House race, though his campaign has struggled and polls show him lagging far behind frontrunner Donald Trump.
Biden, who himself has tepid approval ratings and is fighting an uphill battle against perceptions he's too old for a second term, did not delve into questions on DeSantis' rebuff.
"Well, no, I'm not disappointed," he said.
"He may have had other reasons, but he did help us plan this (visit). He sat with FEMA and decided where we should go, where would be the least disruption."
Biden pointed to the presence of Florida Senator Rick Scott, a Republican and former governor, as a "reassuring" sign that the state leadership and federal authorities were working well together.