President Donald Trump is treading perilous waters as he prepares to visit victims in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Political commentators from around the Internet and press are watching the commander-in-chief’s every move as he steers recovery efforts in the wake of a massive natural disaster.
Analysts at The Hill and Politico suggested that the ramifications of poor handling could be massive. Donald Trump has often struggled to stay on-topic and focused when delivering statements and giving speeches.
While he’s certainly capable of sounding modestly presidential when following a script, some worry what the effect may be if he allows himself to meander when dealing with people who have had their lives hit by Harvey.
Before the storm hit, Trump’s Tweets and remarks were being criticized as callous.
“It’s the biggest ever. They’re saying it’s the biggest ever. It’s historic. It’s like Texas. It’s really like Texas, if you think about it. But it is a historic amount of water,” Trump said, speaking alongside Finnish Prime Minister Sauli Niinisto at a press conference.
The commander-in-chief’s seeming inability to drop the language of showmanship flustered some, considering he almost seemed to be making light of the situation.
Speaking of the devastation and the path toward recovery, Trump said, “We will come out stronger – believe me – we will be bigger, better, stronger than ever before.”
“The rebuilding will begin and in the end it will be something very special,” the president declared, making few apparent or successful attempts to connect with Texans now being inundated by feet of rain.
Although Trump’s rhetoric may fall flat, he’s been diligent to avoid the mistakes of some his predecessors.
The president has been active on Twitter, posting updates on meetings with emergency response officials and signing disaster declarations.
Politico reported that Vice President Mike Pence was dispatched to promote the Trump administration’s response to Harvey.
“The president wants to be there and make sure the families and all of those affected and our first responders know that we are with you,” said Pence, adding that President Trump is “fully engaged” and “continuously updated” about the situation on the ground.
President Trump is expected to be visiting coastal communities and cities later today, but will probably avoid hard-hit Houston due to flooding.
Politico spoke to Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary under President George W. Bush, who made some recommendations for the president’s response on the ground.
“The most important thing is this is not about yourself or how your administration is doing. It is to boost the morale and help the people on the ground who, one, are suffering, and two, are rescuing. Those are the two groups,” Fleischer said.
“The biggest risk is that President Trump goes down there and talks about himself,” he continued. “If he talks about himself, talks about his victory margin in Texas and makes it about anything other than a thank you and praise visit – I don’t even want to think about it because it would be so gauche.”