It’s approximately 500 miles from the White House: A quick hop on Marine One for President Joe Biden to stop at the site of a toxic train derailment in Palestine, OH. Instead, after two weeks of kicking the can down the alleyway, Biden winged his way 4,881 miles to give away another half billion dollars in aid for the ongoing war in Ukraine. Former President Trump, however, showed up and promised to help the people in America who have been adversely affected by the vinyl chloride chemical spill.
As Trump announced from West Palm Beach, “You have a president going to Ukraine, and you have people in Ohio that are in desperate need of help.”
Number 45 flew into Youngstown/Warren Regional Airport early in the afternoon. And the people of the tiny community were ready for the visit: Schools were closed, traffic rerouted, and vendors selling campaign paraphernalia lined the streets. State Senator Michael Rulli and Representative Monica Robb Blasdel, both Ohio Republicans, flanked the former president. Trump brought thousands of bottles of cleaning supplies and 13 pallets of bottled water, pledging to do everything he could to help residents through the crisis.
To add insult to the beleaguered Biden administration, East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway had a few choice words, calling out the apathy that Biden exhibited towards his community. He called the president’s lack of interest “a slap in the face.” He continued: “He can send every agency he wants to, but I found that out this morning and one of the briefings that he was in the Ukraine giving millions of dollars away to people over there, not to us, and I’m furious.”
Trump Talks, Ohio Listens
Trump began by heading down to the actual derailment site while onlookers and friendlies yelled encouraging remarks. He mingled throughout the crowd, shaking hands with residents who kept repeating, “thank you for coming.” He then toured the local fire station that became the central operation headquarters during the crisis, giving brief remarks.
He praised the work already done by the residents, nearby communities, and Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH), who has been on site for four straight days. “Nineteen days ago, tragedy struck,” Trump stated, and then reminded that “first responders and railroad workers alike” were working together to clean up the town. The theme was “the tough and resilient heart of America.” Then, of course, he threw Biden under the bus by telling the assembled crowd the current president would not visit or put forth any resources. Trump reminded folks that once he announced an impending visit, the administration scrambled to be the next feds on site.
“Biden and FEMA said they would not be sending federal aid to East Palestine. As soon as I announced that I’m going, he announced a team will go. Hopefully, he will also be there. This is good news because we got them to move,” Trump said. But he also praised FEMA under his leadership as instrumental in handling hurricanes and tornado outbreaks during his watch.
He wove the message that the current administration will spend too much money on outside interests and forget about American citizens. Trump said he hopes that when everyone returns from Ukraine, “there is some money left over for East Palestine.” He noted that the US has put up a “massive number” of “$117 Billion” for the war while Europe remains at a fraction of that amount in aid.
If the Biden administration shirks its duties, Trump vowed to return and deliver the “treatment you need” and deserve. And he touted the teamwork of moving trucks and tractor-trailers for hauling the bottled water and the business in Michigan that donated the supplies for cleanup.
Biden Admin Takes the Heat
Trump’s visit comes on the heels of media outlets questioning the current president’s priorities. Tucker Carlson made the incendiary statement on Fox News that “East Palestine is a poor, white town that voted for Trump. So honestly, who cares? No one in the Biden administration did care, and that’s an atrocity.”
But Biden has now deployed FEMA and other emergency assistance that will be welcomed once received. Until then, the president and his secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg, may want to spend a half day, including travel time, and head to East Palestine to demonstrate they do care. Or not. It may be a wasted trip in the wake of Trump.
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