A Democratic House member said Thursday that President Donald Trump’s change in tone on Hurricane Dorian after it was announced that the storm will make landfall in Florida, skirting Puerto Rico, is because the state “is not an island full of people of color.”
“Well, part of it is that Florida could be a swing state in 2020. And part of it is Florida is not an island full of people of color. We have seen him again and again pick on anywhere color is involved,” Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” when asked about Trump’s change in tone.
The comments came several hours after Trump appeared to signal a significant shift in his concern over the storm, which was previously projected to heavily impact the US territory of Puerto Rico. Earlier this week, as the island’s residents prepared for the hurricane – which then largely spared the island – Trump harshly criticized the territory’s government and praised himself.
On Thursday, following news that officials expect Dorian to make landfall in Florida, the President announced that he was canceling a scheduled trip to Poland to deal with the storm, which is expected to reach the state as a Category 4 hurricane on Labor Day.
“But I don’t really criticize (Trump for) sticking up and trying to modify the impacts of the hurricane on Florida. I just wish that he would be evenhanded when it comes to the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico,” Beyer said.
The congressman added that he agrees with Trump’s decision to cancel his trip to Poland and that he hopes the President doesn’t attack political leaders in Southern states like he has officials in Puerto Rico.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump wrote: “Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their political system is broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt. Congress approved Billions of Dollars last time, more than anyplace else has ever gotten, and it is sent to Crooked Pols. No good!” he wrote, adding: “And by the way, I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to Puerto Rico!”
On Thursday, the President said it was “very important” for him to be in the US while Hurricane Dorian made landfall and that the storm “looks like it could be a very, very big one indeed.” Trump added that Vice President Mike Pence would go to Poland in his place.
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.