President Trump visited Puerto Rico Tuesday as the island grapples with the devastation left by Hurricane Maria.
Trump has come under fire — most prominently from the mayor of the island’s capital, San Juan — for a federal response that critics say has been sluggish and ineffective.
The president has defended the response, and did so again on Tuesday. Beyond that, what were the main takeaways from his visit?
Awkward comments cast a long shadow
Trump’s unorthodox mode of communication led to some awkward moments during the visit.
At his first major engagement of the day, a briefing at an Air National Guard base in Carolina, Trump said, “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack.”
The off-the-cuff remark was clearly intended as a joke, and those in the room seemed to take it as such. But it landed with a thud among a broader audience, including those who accuse the president of downplaying Puerto Rico’s plight.
On Saturday, Trump stirred outrage by tweeting that some on the island “want everything to be done for them.”
At the Tuesday briefing, Trump also drew an awkward-sounding parallel between Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Katrina, which hammered Louisiana with disastrous results in 2005.
Trump said that people in Puerto Rico should be “very proud” that their official death toll stood at only 16 “versus literally thousands” in Katrina.
He also described Katrina as “a real catastrophe,” a remark that seemed to imply that the situation in Puerto Rico stopped short of that status.
Bad feelings linger with San Juan Mayor
Trump and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz have been in a tense rhetorical battle for days.
Cruz had taken exception to a remark by acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke that the response to Maria was “a good news story.”
After she voiced those criticisms, Trump tweeted that Cruz was showing “such poor leadership ability.” The president also alleged that Cruz had been “very complimentary” only days before but “has now been told by…