Trump Lobs Praise, and Paper Towels, to Puerto Rico Storm Victims
And like his earlier travels, it had its peculiar moments: He also gently tossed rolls of paper towels into a crowd that gathered to see him at Calvary Chapel, outside the island’s capital, San Juan.
This time, however, Mr. Trump flew into a different kind of turbulence. Over the weekend, the president lashed out at the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, after she complained that the federal response in Puerto Rico had fallen short of the responses in Texas and Florida. She was not mollified after meeting him.
“The first part of the meeting was a public-relations situation,” Ms. Cruz said in an interview with CNN about the briefing she attended with the president. While she said the White House staff was helpful and receptive, Mr. Trump’s communications style sometimes “gets in the way.”
“I would hope that the president of the United States stops spouting out comments that really hurt the people of Puerto Rico,” she said, “because, rather than commander in chief, he sort of becomes miscommunicator in chief.”
Mr. Trump greeted the mayor but did not invite her to speak, recognizing instead Mr. Rosselló, who the president said “did not play politics,” and Puerto Rico’s congressional representative, who lavishly applauded the administration’s performance.
“Thank you, Mr. President, for all you have been doing for the island,” said Jenniffer González-Colón, the territory’s nonvoting representative, who declared that Washington had sent everything Puerto Rico needed.
“You were really generous,” Mr. Trump replied. “It’s so important when you have men and women that have worked so hard and so long, and many of them came from two other catastrophic hurricanes.”