President Trump, always good for an unaccountably bizarre utterance or five, repeated the words “Puerto Rico” in an over-the-top Spanish accent on Friday in front of a White House crowd celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. Understandably, the incident flew under the radar amid Trump’s vague threats of a war his advisors don’t yet know about.
“We are … praying for the people of Puerto Rico,” Trump said in the exaggerated accent. “We love Puerto Rico,” he said. “Puerto Rico,” he repeated once more. Reverting to his usual Queens elocution, he said, “And we also love Puerto Rico.”
Trump seemed to revel in his vocal improvisation, and, judging by the raucous applause the line inspired, his crowd didn’t seem to mind much either.
Trump’s remarks came on the heels of a typically calamitous visit to Puerto Rico, which is still reeling two weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. In the span of five hours, Trump launched paper towels into a crowd as if he were at a taping of Ellen, told Puerto Ricans they hadn’t undergone a “real catastrophe” like Hurricane Katrina, and much more.
Puerto Rico is still largely without power, and slightly more than half of its citizens have access to potable water. Presumably to obscure some of the negative effects of its sluggish response, the federal government took down data on those two statistics from the FEMA website this week, before restoring the information on Friday.