Politics

Trump Brings Compassion and Warmth to Flood-Ravaged Texas

President, first lady leave media little to criticize as they hug, comfort and reassure Harvey victims

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump returned to Texas Saturday to meet with victims whose lives have been upended by Hurricane Harvey — and offer their support to the volunteers and officials leading recovery efforts.

The Trumps and members of the president’s Cabinet visited the emergency shelter at Houston’s NRG Stadium in Houston, where they spent time interacting with families who have been displaced by Harvey. The president and the first lady smiled, hugged, and held some of the children there, and Trump even sat down to play with a young boy.

The president and first lady obliged a myriad of selfie requests with evacuees and volunteers as they chatted with them before distributing boxed lunches with hot dogs, chips, and applesauce to the victims. The president also addressed one victim’s complaints that his family’s request for federal aid had been rejected.

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“Really, I think people appreciate what’s been done,” Trump told reporters. “It’s been done very efficiently, very well, and that’s what we want. We’re very happy with the way everything is going.”

“As tough as this was, it’s been a wonderful thing,” Trump added as he spoke of the nation’s unified response to the hurricane. “I think even for the country to watch it and for the world to watch. It’s been beautiful.”

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The president also took a veiled dig at gathered reporters, saying that “even by you guys, it’s been very well-received.”

Trump and his Cabinet members visited a church in the Houston suburb of Pearland, where they made a joint appearance with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), among other local officials. The president lavished praise on Abbott, Cruz, his Cabinet officials, and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long for their response to the hurricane, which killed nearly 50 people as it ravaged Texas during the past week.

“It’s a long-term [effort],” Trump said of the upcoming recovery. “We’re talking about — they say two years, three years, but I think that because this is Texas you’ll probably do it in six months, I have a feeling.”

The president also told reporters that “there’s a lot of water, a lot of water, but it’s moving out.”

“But I think most importantly, the governor, the relationship with the governor, the mayor and everybody, it’s been fantastic. And with the federal government,” Trump added as he touted the Harvey relief funding he requested from Congress late Friday. “We’re signing a lot of documents now to get money into your state. $7.9 billion. We signed it, and now it’s going through a very quick process.”

The president and the first lady also helped load up vehicles with relief supplies outside the First Church in Pearland as Trump told them, “Take care of yourself,” and as some drivers told him that they were praying for him and his administration. Trump also spent time chatting with service members who participated in rescuing thousands of Texans.

In his weekly address Friday, Trump emphasized that his administration is with the people affected by Hurricane Harvey “every single step of the way.” More than 32,000 Texans are believed to have been displaced by Harvey as the death toll rose to near 50.

“We will help you recover. We will help you rebuild. We will support you today, tomorrow, and the day after,” Trump said. “When one part of America hurts, we all hurt. When we see neighbors in need, we rush to their aid. We don’t ask their names or where they are from — we help our fellow Americans every single time.”

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“This is the spirit of America. It is exactly what I saw while in Texas this week — a spirit of love, determination, and resolve. A spirit, that even when wounded, never gives up—never gives in — never loses hope,” the president added. “We just keep fighting — we just keep pushing on, for the people we love, and for the nation we call home.”

On Saturday, the White House announced that Trump had amended his initial Texas disaster declaration by making additional federal funding available for “debris removal and emergency protective measures.”

The president’s first visit to flood-ravaged Texas on Tuesday was not received well by the mainstream media and Democrats who politicized the trip, many of whom claimed that Trump lacked compassion and empathy because he didn’t meet personally with victims. The White House maintained that the president’s first visit was intended to offer support to the governor, local law enforcement officers, and volunteers carrying out the rescue and recover efforts.

Saturday’s visit, however, was meant to be personal as the president engaged with Harvey’s victims. The second excursion also appeared to leave the media with little fodder for criticism — initially, at least — as the president took on the role of Consoler-in-Chief.

“This little boy in the red shirt came right up to @potus and put his arm around him as Trump visits a relief center in Houston,” CNN White House producer Elizabeth Landers tweeted with a picture of the president and the boy.

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“These pictures of @realDonaldTrump with children at a Houston shelter are fascinating. This is Trump the Grandpa, who public never sees,” MSNBC correspondent Garrett Haake tweeted.

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“Evacuees who snapped this selfie w @realDonaldTrump says the encounter changed their opinion of him. Found him to be kind, reassuring,” ABC7 reporter Elex Michelson tweeted with a picture of Trump and two Harvey victims taking a selfie.

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For her own part, Melania Trump appeared unperturbed by the mainstream media’s and liberal pundits’ complaints that she wore stilettos while boarding Air Force One on Tuesday. The first lady boarded the aircraft Saturday wearing stilettos once again before changing into a more casual outfit and sneakers prior to exiting Air Force One in Texas.

“Melania with a pretty clear response to her critics,” Politico executive editor Paul Volpe tweeted with pictures.

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If anything, Trump’s comment that the national response to Harvey’s devastation was “a wonderful thing” appeared to earn him the most grumbling from his second Texas visit as it was taken out of context.

“Trump visits with victims of Harvey, says they are “really happy.” Weirdly calls the storm “a wonderful thing for even the country to watch,” ThinkProgress editor and founder Judd Legum tweeted.

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A Mediate headline read, “Trump at Houston Shelter: ‘As Tough as This Was, It’s Been a Wonderful Thing.'”

(photo credit, homepage and article images: The White House/YouTube)

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