With President Obama expected to meet this week with families of victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting, there were signs Tuesday of rising tension between the White House and Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
“No, he has not called. A staffer has called, but no, he has not called,” Scott told Fox & Friends early Tuesday.
Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz identified the staffer to the Palm Beach Post as Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. Not exactly someone far down the White House chain, Jarrett is one of Obama’s longest-serving and closest White House aides.
But in the exchange with Jarrett, Scott may have gotten what is seen as another stiff-arm. He was told that the governor’s request to have the Federal Emergency Management Agency issue an emergency declaration for Florida, clearing the way for more federal money and assistance, was “still being reviewed,” Schutz said.
Schutz wouldn’t acknowledge that Scott was offended by the president’s decision not to reach out personally to the governor. She did point out that Scott has taken calls from former President George W. Bush, presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani “and many more leaders.”
By contrast, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, a Democrat, did get a presidential phone call — with Obama calling him a “good friend.”
Scott and Obama have frequently antagonized each other, politically. From Scott even before his election as governor fighting the federal health expansion, to the White House’s current slow response to demands for emergency help to fight the Zika virus in Florida, the two have a challenging relationship.
It was unclear if Scott and Obama would be together during Thursday’s presidential visit to Orlando, which apparently is still being put together.
“We still don’t know details but we hope we can (meet with the president),” Schutz said. “We’re going to be in Orlando for a while.”