Top Biden aide blasts DeSantis as "divider"
White House Senior Adviser and Assistant to the President Anita Dunn criticized Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fl.) as a "divider" during an Axios News Shapers event Wednesday.
Why it matters: DeSantis is viewed as a contender for the Republican nomination in 2024 — and Dunn drew a sharp contrast between Biden and the rising conservative leader during Wednesday's Axios event.
Driving the news: "This is a divided nation, but [Biden] will never stop trying to unify the nation ... to reach across the aisle, to look for that common ground, where we can move forward together," Dunn told Axios' Mike Allen.
- "If you look at Gov. DeSantis ... he is a divider, he looks for places to go divide the people of Florida, to try to line up one side against the other," she said.
- "That's just very different from the way Joe Biden sees the world and certainly very different from the way Joe Biden defines the role of president of the United States," Dunn said.
The big picture: Looking ahead to 2024, Dunn would not say when Biden would make an announcement on whether he is running again. "We're not going to get ahead of the president on this one," she said.
- "He has said he intends to run, we are engaged in some planning, for the simple reason if we weren't engaged in planning in November of this year, we should be in the political malpractice hall of fame," Dunn said.
- "His decision to run in 2020 came after a family meeting ... so the family is going to be deeply involved in whatever decision he reaches because that's who he is."
Between the lines: Dunn also said Wednesday that, "I like the job I have," when asked about the prospect of becoming Biden's chief of staff if Ron Klain leaves the post.
- "My hope is he stays just as long as President Biden does, which means poor Ron is in for another six years," she said.
What to watch: Dunn gave insight into Biden's top policy priorities during the lame duck session of Congress, saying that the areas of focus include government funding, the potential for additional aid for Ukraine and additional COVID aid.
- "What is important ... is to continue to do the research and to develop the new treatments, the new vaccines," Dunn said of COVID funding.
- "We need to stay ahead of this virus," she added.
White House Deputy Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President Jen O'Malley Dillon, looking ahead to next week's midterms, said that she "thinks it's going to be a pleasant surprise" for Democrats.
- "Be confident, show up and do your job and participate in this democracy ... and we will be in a good place because of [Biden's] leadership and the path forward," she said.
Go deeper: Full video of Axios News Shapers event