Donald Trump has visited Puerto Rico 13 days after Hurricane Maria ravaged the country. The President of the United States, who spent his 67th day at his golf resort while the American territory struggled with the devastation from the hurricane, told the surviving citizens to be 'very proud' they had not experienced a 'real catastrophe' like Hurricane Katrina.
His four hour visit to the US territory was something of an extended gaffe, drawing criticism globally.
Prior to his visit, the President spent the weekend in a Twitter spat with the Mayor of San Juan after she criticised the federal government's slow response to the crisis.
His catalogue of Presidential nonconformities continued when he was on the island.
Speaking at Muñiz Air National Guard Base on Tuesday, the President quipped that Puerto Rico had harmed his budget plans.
You have thrown our budget a little out of whack, because we've spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico and that's fine.
THE PRESIDENT: Would you like to say something on behalf of your men and women?
AIR FORCE REPRESENTATIVE: Sir, I’m representing the Air Force.
THE PRESIDENT: No, I know that.
In the same exchange the President also commented on the bargain he had gotten for the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter.
But that's an expensive plane that you can't see. And as you probably heard, we cut the price very substantially -- something that other administrations would never have done, that I can tell you. So thank you very much.
When you are dealing with a natural disaster, a new stealth plane is extremely relevant.
'A real catastrophe, like Katrina'
As per usual, remarks about one topic led onto another with little cogency. Moving on from his praise of the Coast Guard, the President compared the 16 deaths recorded in Puerto Rico so far to the 'hundreds and hundreds and hundreds' killed in 2008 during Hurricane Katrina.
Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here and what is your death count? Sixteen people, versus in the thousands,
You can be very proud. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people.
It it worth nothing that the death count of 16 has not been updated for many days. The certified death toll from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is recorded as 1,833 people.
Using Katrina as a yard stick for any disaster is going to make others appear less severe, when in fact Puerto Rico's devastation is hardly something which any of its residents would be 'very proud' of.
In addition to the press conference, the President also handed out provisions in one of Puerto Rico's shelters.
Here, he answered the question you always wanted to ask: Does President Trump shoot better hoops than his predecessors?
I can’t shake this image. @POTUS tossing paper towels at a hurricane relief event like he’s shooting free throws. https://t.co/at0xzlCvf4
— Jamil Smith جميل كريم (@Jamil Smith جميل كريم)