When the president Joe Biden met Ray Murphy, the mayor of Fort Myers Beach, Fla., on Wednesday, the two quickly discovered they had a lot in common. Maybe too much in common.
They became buddies very quickly, so much so that the president may have forgotten that the TV cameras and microphones were close enough to hear him tell the mayor, “Nobody fucks with a Biden.”
Biden made the remark while chatting with Murphy on his second storm-related trip this week, this time to investigate. Hurricane Ianthe damage to the Fort Myers region, where Murphy has served as mayor since 2020.
The President met with Murphy and other local officials and residents and delivered remarks at a joint press conference with Republican State Governor Ron DeSantis.
“It wasn’t directed at anyone. It was just two guys talking,” Murphy said in a phone interview shortly after Biden’s remark went viral. “It didn’t faze me at all. It’s just the way two guys talk to each other about our respective origins.
Murphy said he had never met Biden until Wednesday, “which is remarkable because we know a lot of the same people.”
A roommate of Murphy’s at Villanova University, for example, grew up in Biden’s hometown of 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 home in Rehoboth.
“It was one thing after another. We got to know each other. And for me, that was great, because I hope they don’t forget about us,” Murphy said.
Murphy said he couldn’t remember exactly what he might have said that would have led Biden to “drop the bomb,” as he put it. But he said he felt a kindred spirit when Biden said so.
“We are both Irish Catholics. We are both devout Catholics. But every once in a while, a little salty language comes out,” Murphy said.
The White House declined to comment on Biden’s hot mic remark.
Murphy is on his second tour as mayor, having been elected to city council in 2019 and then elected by council to be mayor in 2020 and 2021. He previously served on city council for six years after the community was incorporated in 1995, but he “retired” after six years.
He said he was brought back into public service due to environmental concerns, frustrated with the city’s handling of red tide algae.
“Barely have I been elected and Covid has broken out [out]. What 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 good luck.”
Murphy said he was pleased with the response from state and federal governments so far, but knew there was a long way to go. He said he only made one simple request to Biden during their private chat: “Help us get back on our feet, and we’ll take over from there.”
Zoe Richards contributed.