Backlash greeted President Donald Trump on Thursday, Sept. 13, after he denied the official death count from Hurricane Maria — the disaster that rocked Puerto Rico in September 2017 and resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people. People were not happy about the president's attempt to deny the scale of the disaster, and now even former Vice President Joe Biden is speaking out about the matter. Seriously, Joe Biden's response to Donald Trump over Hurricane Maria's death toll is a must-see message.
With Hurricane Florence pounding down on the Carolinas and Virginia region, Hurricane Maria and its lasting impact has become a fresh topic, prompting Trump to take to Twitter to address the tragedy. In a series of tweets on Sept. 13, Trump denied the death toll, writing that “3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico." Instead, he claimed that Democrats had fabricated the number, engaging in “bad politics” to muddle his reputation, without any apparent evidence.
Unsurprisingly, the criticism was immediate. While both allies and opponents denounced the president's tweets, Biden took a different route, and offered up some words mocking Trump's tweets during a speech in Washington that same day. “By the way, there’s no problems in America," Biden quipped, according to Politico. "Everybody is doing well, things are fair and decent, and no one died in Puerto Rico."
Biden also got serious, blasting "all of this foolishness that’s going on with this phony populism and this naked nationalism that’s being promulgated right now." He continued,
When things are tough economically for people who work hard, there are sometimes charlatans that come along to try to find a reason for those people to blame whatever is happening to them on the other, on the immigrant, on that black man or woman.
The barbs followed a series of messages from Trump this week in which the president attempted to defend his handling of Hurricane Maria. The Trump administration has been widely criticized for its failure to respond effectively to the natural disaster, which devastated the island and left many of its residents without power for nearly a year. In a message shared on Sept. 12, Trump praised his own response to Hurricane Maria and blasted San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, suggesting she was to blame for the apparent slow reaction to the disaster. He wrote:
We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida (and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan). We are ready for the big one that is coming!
Just a day before that, on Sept. 11, Trump also offered up some shocking words regarding Hurricane Maria. When questioned about what he learned from the response to the hurricane, Trump said, "I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success," despite the nearly 3,000 person death toll. Sigh.
The tweets come just days after the island's governor officially raised the death toll from Hurricane Maria to an estimated 2,975 up from 64. For some reason, that number has seemingly just been too hard for Trump to grasp. But on the bright side, at least there are people out there like Biden who are trying to push the message through to him.