What a shame.
President Trump turned his first visit to storm-ravaged Texas Tuesday into pseudo-campaigning, as he boasted about crowd sizes and TV ratings while surveying the wreckage from Tropical Storm Harvey.
“What a crowd, what a turnout,” Trump told hundreds of spectators in an impromptu speech from a firetruck in Corpus Christi.
Earlier, he complimented FEMA Director William (Brock) Long for his newfound celebrity from handling the worst natural disaster in the state’s history.
Speaking to reporters after a briefing, Trump praised Long as “a man who’s really become very famous on television in the last couple of days.”
”We appreciate it very much, you have been just outstanding,” Trump told Long.
This is the second day in a row that Trump spoke about the devastating storm like it’s a television spectacle.
In a White House press conference on Monday, Trump said he expected coverage of the storm last week to help him get “far higher” ratings for his announcement about pardoning Joe Arpaio.
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump avoided Houston, the city hit hardest by Harvey, on Tuesday. The White House cited safety concerns and worries that Trump would be a “disruption” to the recovery.
Instead, Trump received briefings in Corpus Christi and Austin about the relief efforts.
In his addresses to Texans, Trump offered optimistic rallying but few details from his briefings.
“We want to do it better than ever before,” he said about the recovery.
“We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as, ‘This is the way to do it.'”
He was often greeted by cheers of “USA!” and “Texas loves Trump!” while a few protesters also popped up at his appearances.
The White House said Trump focused this trip on coordination of government agencies. He is planning to return to the area Saturday.
Trump’s arrival in Texas began a test for how he responds to the first natural disaster of his presidency.
Trump touched down in the middle of Harvey’s reign of terror, which has unleashed the worst flooding in Houston’s history and killed at least 15 people, including a police officer and a family of six. Houston is expected to keep getting hammered this week, and the storm is likely to reach Louisiana too. Thousands of residents have seen their homes destroyed.
Trump will have to reconcile his actions in the crisis with the mercurial public responses he has shown to the storm.
In public statements, Trump has wavered between rallying support for Houston and essentially boasting about the storm’s historic size — all while saying next to nothing about the victims.
“Many people are now saying that this is the worst storm/hurricane they have ever seen,” he wrote Sunday in one of severallaudatory tweets about Harvey.
Minutes after departing for the Lone Star State, Trump was tweeting about the TV show “Fox & Friends,” defending himself after a segment questioned the dozens of unfilled jobs in the federal government.
“We are not looking to fill all of those positions. Don’t need many of them – reduce size of government,” Trump wrote.
Trump’s critics have questioned if the under-staffed government will be capable of handling Harvey and its recovery, which is expected to last years.
But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott praised the Trump administration’s early responses to the disaster, saying Trump and FEMA offered “A-plus” support.
Melania Trump also whipped up a minor controversy Tuesday when she was pictured wearing stilettos as she boarded Marine One to visit a disaster zone.