Trump gets push back from Scott and DeSantis on Puerto Rico
President Donald Trump is fighting with officials from Puerto Rico over the official death toll numbers from last year’s Hurricane Irma. That is not playing well in Florida where the nation’s second largest Puerto Rican population lives and Trump’s battle is very bad for Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Rick Scott and the GOP candidate for governor Ron DeSantis.
Both men quickly distanced themselves from President Trump who they have been backing in their respective campaigns. But in two of the nation’s most important races neither Scoot nor DeSantis can afford to lose a single vote.
“I disagree with [the president] – an independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. [Ricardo] Rosselló agreed. I’ve been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand. The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching,” Scott tweeted on Thursday afternoon.
Not long after Scott’s tweet came a statement from the DeSantis campaign. “Congressman DeSantis is committed to standing with the Puerto Rican community, especially after such a tragic loss of life. He doesn’t believe any loss of life has been inflated.”
According to a report by The Hill, another Republican official in Florida, who was appointed by Scott to the state’s Board of Governors, went even further. “Mr. President. SHUT UP,” Alan Levine tweeted. “Any death, whether one or 3,000 is a tragedy. That doesn’t mean you caused it, and it’s not about you. Show compassion for the families.”
Meanwhile, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D), who is in a tight race to defend his seat against Scott said Trump’s comments are “shameful.”
“We deserve and expect more from someone who holds the highest office in our country,” tweeted Nelson.
President Trump is taking aim at an independent study commissioned by the governor of Puerto Rico and conducted by the highly respected nonpartisan George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health concluded the official death toll was 2,975 directly caused by Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) both said they had no reason to dispute the report. At the moment it seems like the only person in Washington to challenge the numbers is President Trump.