George W. Bush by no means recovered from his flyover of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. Barack Obama received a bipartisan increase late in his re-election marketing campaign for his dealing with of Superstorm Sandy.
Now, President Donald Trump confronts the political dangers and potential positive factors that include main the federal authorities’s response to a lethal and damaging pure catastrophe. Hurricane Harvey, the huge storm that has dumped torrents of rain throughout Texas — flooding Houston and different cities — is the primary main pure catastrophe of Trump’s presidency, and the but-to-be-decided scope of the injury seems more likely to require a years-lengthy federal venture.
Trump, who’s struggling via an extended stretch of low approval scores, has been notably wanting to seize the second. He’ll go to Texas Tuesday — and should return to the area once more on Saturday. The White Home introduced the primary go to even earlier than Harvey made landfall. On Monday, Trump promised Texans will “have what you want” and that federal funding would come “quick.”
“We’ll come out stronger and consider me, we can be greater, higher, stronger than ever earlier than,” Trump stated Monday throughout a White Home information convention.
The president’s unconventional type has nonetheless oozed out. Trump despatched about two dozen tweets concerning the storm since Friday, marveling on the measurement of the hurricane and cheering on emergency responders: “You’re doing an amazing job — the world is watching!”
Certainly, he argued Monday he particularly timed his controversial pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio to capitalize on all of the viewers tuned into storm protection. The Friday night time pardon wasn’t an try to cover the information, he stated: “I assumed the scores can be greater.”
Trump advisers are properly-conscious that the hurricane poses a big check for the White Home, which has largely been mired in crises of its personal making throughout Trump’s first seven months in workplace, together with the president’s extensively criticized response to white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump, who ran an actual property enterprise and starred in a actuality present earlier than taking workplace, has no expertise within the sorts of restoration efforts that might be required in Texas and has struggled at occasions to point out competency in governing.
Administrations typically tread rigorously in planning visits to catastrophe-ravaged areas. Mobilizing a president, his employees and his safety is a gigantic logistical enterprise and may pull native regulation enforcement assets away from the catastrophe restoration efforts. However Trump hasn’t been cowed.
Aides stated it was Trump who pushed for the White Home to make his want to journey to Texas recognized early. The precise location of his stops is unknown, although he is all however sure to keep away from Houston, the place flooding has wreaked havoc on the nation’s fourth-largest metropolis.
“Circumstances have not cleared in Houston but so in all probability not applicable for him to go up there, in all probability not protected for him to go up there,” stated Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas. “However I do assume having your personal eyes on the devastation that I’ve seen is necessary.”
The optics of a president’s preliminary response to a pure catastrophe may be lengthy-lasting. Bush was haunted by his now-notorious declaration that then-FEMA Director Michael Brown was doing “a heckuva job” — a press release that appeared wildly off base after the complete scope of the devastation turned clear. Photographs of Bush peering down on the flooding in New Orleans from Air Drive One additionally furthered the impression that he was indifferent from the horrific circumstances on the bottom.
“He understands why that image turned a metaphor,” stated Dana Perino, who was serving as deputy White Home spokeswoman on the time.
Trump has performed storm politics earlier than. Throughout his marketing campaign, he rushed to Louisiana, in his signature “Make America Nice Once more” hat, to view injury from large flooding. Trump made it to the battered neighborhoods earlier than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and whereas President Barack Obama was vacationing.
“We’re glad you are not enjoying golf at Martha’s Winery,” one lady informed him, a jab at Obama.
“Any person is, anyone is that should not be,” Trump replied.
Over the weekend, Trump provided a sunny evaluation of the response efforts whereas the rain was nonetheless pouring down on Houston and different Texas cities. He cited the “nice coordination between businesses in any respect ranges of presidency” and declared, “We’ve got an all out effort going, and going properly!”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has to date praised the federal response to Hurricane Harvey, which has been blamed for at the very least three confirmed deaths. However with almost 2 extra ft of rain anticipated, authorities nervous whether or not the worst was but to return.
By itself, a profitable federal response to Hurricane Harvey is unlikely to reshape Trump’s presidency. However together with his approval score perilously low, it might assist Trump persuade some People that he has the potential to steer the nation by way of troublesome moments.
Trump’s predecessors have additionally benefited from the political alternatives that may come up after pure disasters.
When Superstorm Sandy barreled throughout the East Coast days earlier than the 2012 election, Obama paused his marketing campaign to watch the federal response from Washington. He traveled to onerous-hit New Jersey, the place Republican Gov. Chris Christie, a robust supporter of the president’s rival, lavished reward on the president.
Obama advisers stated on the time that whereas they did not consider the president’s Sandy efforts have been a deciding issue within the election, the reward he acquired from Republicans was useful within the midst of a extremely partisan marketing campaign.
AP Polling Director Emily Swanson contributed to this report.
Comply with Julie Tempo at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC