As if the administration wasn’t already being hit and hammered from enough angles to make it look extremely bad to the average American, now the Biden Administration is under attack for its response to the massive wildfire ripping through the Hawaiian island of Maui.
That came during the April 14th press briefing conducted by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre, who got flustered and had trouble giving a straight answer when asked whether Americans should see Biden working on solving the terrible crisis afflicting Maui rather than just sitting on a beach, napping.
The reporter introduced the question by asking how the administration responds to critics who say the president shouldn’t be on vacation when the nation burns, asking, “And on Hawaii, how does the White House respond to critics who have suggested that the President should not have been vacationing at the beach over the weekend as the Maui crisis became the worst wildfire in a century?”
Predictably, KJP had trouble giving a straight answer. Beginning, she said that the administration is doing lots to help, saying, “So, a couple of things. And I’ve said this multiple times: The President is certainly deeply concerned about — about the people in Maui to the — to the point where he has mobilized a whole-of-government approach here, as he d- — he has done many times, to deal with these wildfires in Hawaii. From the beginning, we — you’ve heard directly from the Administrator: From day one, FEMA has been on the ground dealing with this. There’s more than 300 personnel — FEMA personnel. We’ve talked about the 50,000 meals. We’ve talked about 75,000 liters of water, the thousands of cots that are out there and blankets. And this is — there is more than a dozen — a dozen federal agencies who are — who are dealing with this issue right now that — that we’re currently seeing in Maui.”
She then said that Biden and Jill had offered “their condolences,” as if that’s much help to those whose houses burned down, saying, “And it is a devastating sight. And the President and the First Lady has been very clear about offering, certainly, their condolences and making sure that we continue this whole-of-government approach. That is not going to stop. The President has also committed to being there for the government of Hawaii, the people of Maui for as long as it takes. And sadly, we have seen this before.”
Then, after mentioning Democrats from Hawaii who supported Biden, she claimed that Biden, who was on vacation, “is deeply concerned” about the fire ravaging Maui. She said, “And so, look, you’ve heard from the President. I’m going to quote him from what he said on Thursday, which is I’ve — he’s directed — he’s directed what we surge — what we surge support of these brave — brave firefighters and first responders and emergency personnel working around the clock. He said, “I’m going to make sure the state has everything it needs from the federal government to recover,” because the President is deeply concerned and is going to continue to be there for the people of Maui, the government of Hawaii for as long as it takes. And that is his commitment.”
So that wasn’t an answer, as it didn’t address the optics of Biden being on vacation while Maui burned. And so the reporter pressed on that question, asking, “So, should the pe- — should the American people be seeing the President on the phone, working the phones, talking to officials, rather than seeing him on the beach?”
KJP again struggled to give a straight answer. She began by saying that it “matters” that the islands Democrats have been supporting Biden, saying, “The pr- — you all have gotten pool reports on who the President has connected with. You all have heard from us when the President has talked to the governor, when the President — you heard from me when — about talking to the senator. You heard directly from the Administrator. You know, and you’ve heard from the governor and the senators on the ground, saying how much they appreciated the work of the federal government, the work from this President. And I think that matters. I think that matters that the folks who are on the ground, the elected officials, are saying that they’re receiving the help that they need to deal with this devastating issue.”
Then she said that Biden sent someone there, saying, “And that’s what you’re going to continue to hear from this administration. And that’s what you’re going to continue to see. Again, the Administrator was there for two whole days — two whole days on the ground, by the President’s request, to make sure that the government has what they have — the local government has what they have, the people of Maui have what they have. And that’s what you’re going to see.”
And, finally, she said that a few hundred FEMA people are on the ground, implying that because of their presence Biden being on vacation doesn’t matter. “When you talk about a dozen agencies on the ground, helping and assisting more than si- — more than — hundreds of FEMA — FEMA personnel, that’s what matters. That’s what matters for — to make sure that they’re actually seeing on the ground the people who know how to work this, who know how to deal with these type of devastating events, who can be helpful to them on the ground doing just that — by the request of this President,” she said.
Watch that here:
Featured image credit: screengrab from the embedded video
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