President Donald Trump comments about the size of the crowd that gathered to hear him speak in Texas has raised a lot of eyebrows (video below).
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited Corpus Christi, Texas on Aug. 29 to survey the damage done by Hurricane Harvey, the Hill reported. During that visit, the president addressed a crowd of several hundred people at a fire station.
"What a crowd, what a turnout," Trump told the crowd while speaking from a ladder between two fire trucks, according to a White House pool report. "Thank you."
"We love you, you are special, we are here to take care of you," Trump continued. "It's going well."
Trump then thanked Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the state's senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.
"This has been a total collaborative effort," Trump said. "It's historic, it's epic, but I tell you it happened in Texas, and Texas can handle anything."
The president concluded his speech by holding up a Texas flag as the crowd cheered.
Trump then met with local and national officials. He praised FEMA director, Brock Long, saying he is “a man who’s really become very famous on television over the last couple of days.”
“It’s a real team, and we want to do it better than ever before. We want to be looked at in five years and 10 years from now as this is the way to do it,” Trump added. “This was of epic proportions. Nobody’s ever seen anything like this. And I just want to say that working with the governor and his entire team has been an honor for us.”
“And we won’t say congratulations," Trump told Abbot. "We don’t want to do that. We don’t want to congratulate. We’ll congratulate each other when it’s all finished.”
Several officials and critics were baffled by the president's comments about the category 4 hurricane. While some felt he did a good job of reassuring the people of Texas that things will get better, others criticized the president's choice of words.
“It is a difficult balancing act for presidents,” Matt Latimer, who was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, told the Washington Post. “You want to project confidence that things will get better, but at the same time you want to display empathy for people who have lost everything."
"The president has a knack for the first one, but so far he hasn’t displayed a lot of skill at displaying empathy," Latimer continued. "And that’s a problem.”
“It’s not a time for crowing about crowds,” argued Alyssa Mastromonaco, a former deputy chief of staff of operations under the Obama administration. “This weather event isn’t even over yet. They have no idea the damage that’s been incurred and how many people will need a place to live when this is over. It’s catastrophic, not epic.”
Still, others felt that those who oppose Trump wouldn't have been satisfied with anything the president said.
“I’ve always thought that these kinds of deals are a no-win situation for politicians,” said Barton Swaim, opinion editor at the Weekly Standard and former speechwriter for South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. “There’s no good response. If you insert yourself, you look opportunistic. . . . If you don’t, you look aloof and disconnected.”