Fellow Republicans Disagree With Trump on Puerto Rico

Paul Ryan, Rick Scott among those backing up the death toll of 3,000
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2018 1:40 PM CDT
President Donald Trump speaks during a Congressional Medal of Honor Society Reception in the East Room of the White House Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – President Trump thinks the latest estimate of about 3,000 dead from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is a lie made up by his political opponents. But even some Republicans—especially those in Florida—are among those disagreeing with the president's assertion about the estimate from researchers at George Washington University. Some of the responses, per the Washington Post, CNN, and USA Today:

  • Paul Ryan: The House speaker said he had "no reason to dispute" the death toll. "You couldn’t get to people for a long time on the island because roads were washed out, power was gone and the casualties mounted for a long time," Ryan said. "Those are just the facts of what happens when a horrible hurricane hits an isolated place like an island." He added that "casualties don't make a person look bad."
  • Rick Scott: Florida's Republican governor tweeted that he disagreed with Trump. An "independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. (Ricardo) Rosselló agreed," wrote Scott, who is running for the Senate. "I've been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand."

  • Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen: The Florida Republican had one of the harshest takes. “What kind of mind twists that statistic into ‘Oh, fake news is trying to hurt my image,’” she said. “How can you be so self-centered and try to distort the truth so much? It’s mind boggling.”
  • Carmen Yulin Cruz: The mayor of San Juan responded with a tweetstorm, and one captures the theme: “This is what denial following neglect looks like: Mr Pres in the real world people died on your watch. YOUR LACK OF RESPECT IS APPALLING!”
  • The researchers: "We stand by the science underlying our study which found there were an estimated 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria," says a statement from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at GWU. The report, which they say was completed with zero political interference, is here.
  • A defense, with a mistake: While on CNN, Rick Santorum defended the Trump administration's response to Maria, saying that while FEMA plays a big role, the primary responsibility lies with the "country of Puerto Rico." Salon notes that nobody corrected him by pointing out that Puerto Rico is a territory of the US.
(Read more President Trump stories.)

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