- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sen. Bernard Sanders says race could be a factor in President Trump’s response to criticism about his administration’s recovery and relief efforts in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

The Vermont independent’s comments come after Mr. Trump tweeted over the weekend criticizing the mayor of San Juan for poor leadership as relief efforts were underway.

“Given the president’s history on race, given the fact that he — a few months ago — said there were good people on both sides when neo-Nazis were marching in Charlottesville, yeah, I think we have a right to be suspect that he is treating the people in Puerto Rico in a different way than he has treated the people of Texas or Florida,” Mr. Sanders said Sunday during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

He said the people of Puerto Rico, who are American citizens, are entitled to the same help as anyone else in the United States.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who is a vocal critic of the president, joined in on the criticism of Mr. Trump over his comments.

“It’s not appropriate when people are in the middle of a disaster. You don’t start trying to criticism them,” Mr. Kasich told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

But Mick Mulvaey, director of the Office of Management and Budget, defended the administration’s response to the disaster, saying it’s unfair to allege Mr. Trump hasn’t given any effort towards relief for Puerto Rico.

Mr. Mulvaney said the media coverage has been fair in terms of showing the damage, but people shouldn’t judge recovery efforts by tweets and criticism.

“What you have not shown, however, is the federal effort of what we’ve got in place down there. In fact, the governor has been very complementary of the administration,” the budget director told CNN.

The comments come after Mr. Trump tweeted Saturday about the “poor leadership” by local officials in Puerto Rico.

“Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They…….want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job,” read the president’s tweets.

Puerto Rico was first hit by Hurricane Irma and then by Hurricane Maria last month, which wiped out power for roughly 3.5 million people.

Mr. Trump is expected to visit the island on Tuesday, and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told ABC’s “This Week” she is willing to meet with him.

“Let us not talk about the debt, let us not talk the cost of reconstruction,” Ms. Cruz said Sunday, urging the conversation to be about saving lives.

She said FEMA is telling people to register for relief online, but they do not have access to the internet.

“They just don’t have the resources,” the mayor said of FEMA.

But FEMA Administrator Brock Long defended their efforts, telling ABC News that in 42 days, his team has registered nearly three million people for relief since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in August.

He also said he has emergency teams going door to door in Puerto Rico to register people for assistance.

“We’re not only fixing road way networks, we’re doing emergency power … we’ve opened up 700 gas stations,” Mr. Long said.

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