When President Joe Biden met Ray Murphy, the mayor of Fort Myers Beach, Florida, on Wednesday, the two quickly discovered they had a lot in common. Maybe too much in common.
They got chummy very quickly, so much so that the president may have forgotten that television cameras and microphones were close enough to hear him tell the mayor: “Nobody f—s with a Biden.”
Biden made the remark as he was chatting with Murphy during his second storm-related trip this week, this time to survey Hurricane Ian’s damage to the Fort Myers region, where Murphy has been mayor since 2020.
The president met with Murphy and other local officials and residents and delivered remarks at a joint news conference with the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis.
“It was not directed at anybody. It was just two guys talking,” Murphy said in a phone interview shortly after Biden’s remark went viral. “It didn’t faze me one bit. That’s just the way two guys talk to each other from our respective backgrounds.”
Murphy said he had never met Biden before Wednesday, “which is remarkable, because we know a lot of the same people.”
A college roommate of Murphy’s at Villanova University, for example, grew up in Biden’s hometown, Scranton, Pennsylvania. Villanova is also the alma mater of first lady Jill Biden. As they dug deeper, Biden and Murphy found mutual connections in Rehoboth and Dewey Beach, Delaware. The Bidens have a house in Rehoboth.
“It was one thing after another. We familiarized ourselves with each other. And to me, that was great, because hopefully they don’t forget about us,” Murphy said.
Murphy said he couldn’t recall exactly what he might have said that led Biden to “drop the bomb,” as he put it. But he said he felt a kindred spirit when Biden said it.
“We’re both Irish Catholics. We’re both devout Catholics. But every once and a while a little salty language comes out,” Murphy said.
The White House declined to comment on Biden’s hot mic remark.
Murphy is serving his second tour as mayor, having been elected to the Town Council in 2019 and then voted by the council to be mayor in 2020 and 2021. He had previously served on the Town Council for six years after the community incorporated in 1995, but he “retired” after six years.
He said he was drawn back into public service because of environmental issues, frustrated by the town’s handling of red tide algae.
“No sooner do I get elected and Covid broke [out]. And if Covid wasn’t enough, now a hurricane, to boot,” Murphy said. “As the Irish would say, if we didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck.”
Murphy said he has been pleased with the state and federal governments’ response so far but knows there’s a long road ahead. He said he made just one simple ask of Biden during their private conversation: to “help get us back on our feet, and we’ll take it from there.”
Zoë Richards contributed.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism