Trump Visit To Puerto Rico: A Chance To Deflect 'Katrina' Comparisons

President Trump has been praised for his administration’s response to last month’s hurricanes in Texas and Florida – no small feat. It was the first time two Category 4 storms had hit the United States in the same year.

But Puerto Rico has been another story. Hurricane Maria left the island in utter devastation, and critics have accused the Trump administration of lagging in its response. Mr. Trump, in turn, attacked local officials as “politically motivated ingrates” and called coverage of the devastation “fake news.”

Complicating it all is Trump’s prickly relationship with Latinos, who have never seen this president as an ally. Trump’s visit Tuesday to Puerto Rico represents an opportunity to turn the page, but a narrative is already setting in: Maria is Trump’s “Katrina,” a reference to the charge that President George W. Bush had failed a devastated New Orleans after its own hurricane in 2005.

Can today’s downward spiral of recriminations and distrust be reversed?

“I’ve got to be honest, there’s a lot of dishonest politics going on here,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “The Democrats are clearly trying to make this Trump’s Katrina through identity politics, just because of questionable statements made about Hispanics throughout the campaign.”

Another political dimension that roils the Puerto Rico story centers on Florida: If waves of Puerto Ricans move to the Sunshine State permanently, and begin voting there, that could be a game-changer in this critical battleground state.

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor

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