Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Trump vowed ‘A Plus’ relief for Alabama. That’s not what California and Puerto Rico heard.


By Reis Thebault
March 4, 2019

After the deadliest outbreak of tornadoes in years swept through the South, killing more than 20 people and wreaking devastation in Alabama, President Trump promised on Twitter that the disaster relief would be swift, the best his administration could muster — “A Plus treatment” for a state in dire need.

“FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes,” Trump wrote Monday, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s relief efforts.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R), who said she spoke to Trump, thanked him for the support.


Trump’s enthusiastic assurance that Alabama would get top-flight help contrasts sharply with his barbed rhetoric following horrific wildfires in California and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, when he repeatedly threatened to cut off federal aid and picked fights with local politicians, in one instance calling the mayor of San Juan “totally incompetent."

The difference between Alabama and Puerto Rico and California, the president’s critics say, is obvious.

“The president really treats differently those people who have supported him in the past and those people who haven’t,” Brian Ott, a rhetoric professor at Texas Tech University, told The Washington Post. “Not all lives are equal in the eyes of the president. … The lives of red states matter, and the lives of blue states don’t."


It comes down to politics, said Ott, author of “The Twitter Presidency: Donald J. Trump and the Politics of White Rage.” In the 2016 election, Trump lost California by 30 percentage points. In Puerto Rico, which does not have a say in the presidential election, voters chose Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) over Trump in the Republican primary.

But Trump won Alabama by nearly 28 points.


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