- Getty Images/Pool
“I am begging, begging anyone who can hear us to save us from dying,” Carmen Yulin Cruz, San Juan’s mayor, said Friday morning. “If anybody out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency.”
Cruz also implied that Puerto Rico had received far more help from corporations and private entities than from the federal government.
“This is what we got last night: four pallets of water, three pallets of meals and 12 pallets of infant food – which I gave them to the people of Comerio, where people are drinking off a creek,” Cruz said. “So I am done being polite. I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell. So I am asking the members of the press, to send a mayday call all over the world. We are dying here.”
Trump responded shortly after, criticizing Cruz’s leadership ability in a Saturday morning tweetstorm. He made the remarks while staying at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” Trump said on Twitter. “…Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.”
Hurricane Maria left many of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million US citizens without shelter, water, power, and other basic necessities.
“They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job,” Trump said on Saturday. “The military and first responders, despite no electric, roads, phones etc., have done an amazing job. Puerto Rico was totally destroyed.”
Trump’s response to Cruz’s appeals for help earned immediate and sustained criticism, particularly from Democrats and celebrities, who blasted the president for attacking the mayor of a hurricane-ravaged city from the confines of his golf course.
Cruz issued a swift response to Trump’s tweets. “I’ll say what I have to say to save Puerto Rican lives,” Cruz said on Saturday morning.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator or “Hamilton” and a frequent advocate for Puerto Rico, told Trump he was “going straight to hell” for his attacks on Cruz.
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) September 30, 2017
“Don’t ever let this become normalized,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy wrote in response to Trump’s tweets.
Don't ever let this become normalized. Today our President will sit in his opulent golf resort attacking hurricane first responders. https://t.co/8hOVuk3cKM
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) September 30, 2017
Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts said that the first thing Trump should do when he visits Puerto Rico on Tuesday is apologize for his comments.
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) September 30, 2017
Prominent conservative commentator Erick Erickson wrote that he had planned to speak out in Trump’s favor Saturday morning but that he had deleted the blog post. “He doesn’t deserve it,” Erickson wrote.
I was going to say something in the President’s favor this morning. I have deleted it. He doesn’t deserve it. https://t.co/UA29pI5fKN
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) September 30, 2017
Comedian Chelsea Handler compared Trump’s Puerto Rico response to Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina. “Seems like someone hates Puerto Ricans,” Handler tweeted.
Remember when George bush "hated" black people after Katrina? Seems like someone hates Puerto Ricans. These people are begging for help.
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) September 30, 2017
“I this it’s clear where the ‘poor leadership’ lies @realDonaldTrump Puerto Rico is part of the United States,” tweeted Lady Gaga. “This is our responsibility.”
I this it's clear where the 'poor leadership' lies @realDonaldTrump Puerto Rico is part of the United States. This is our responsibility.
— xoxo, Gaga (@ladygaga) September 30, 2017
The artist also made a reference to Trump’s frequent preoccupation with recounting his Electoral College victory in November, and implied that he was slow to respond to Puerto Rico because it does not have any Electoral College votes.
— xoxo, Gaga (@ladygaga) September 30, 2017
Comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres chimed in with her own message of support for San Juan’s mayor. “I see you, I hear you, I love you,” DeGeneres tweeted. “You’re a hero.”
.@CarmenYulinCruz I see you, I hear you, I love you. You're a hero.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) September 30, 2017
California Rep. Ted Lieu, a vocal Trump critic, called on the president to send help to Puerto Rico “before you golf.”
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) September 30, 2017
Kim Kardashian chimed in to ask Trump to “stop tweeting & golfing while people are dying” and to “please step up & help!”
They don’t have power to watch the news!!! Please stop tweeting & golfing while people are dying! Please step up & help! https://t.co/AP8PnapWaO
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) September 30, 2017
Kumail Nanjiani, a stand-up comedian and one of the stars of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” observed that Trump “never talk this way about a predominantly white community.”
He would never talk this way about a predominantly white community. https://t.co/5voSwXEXLJ
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) September 30, 2017
Others also noted the racial implications of Trump’s comments. Data journalist Nate Silver wrote that “it totally fits the pattern that Trump is attacking the mayor San Juan. She challenged him and she’s a woman (and Hispanic, obviously.).”
So, it totally fits the pattern that Trump is attacking the mayor San Juan. She challenged him and she's a woman (and Hispanic, obviously.) https://t.co/DJ2mZQixU9
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) September 30, 2017
“The irony of Trump golfing and tweeting—saying the mayor of San Juan wants “everything to be done for them”—it’s as thick as his skull,” tweeted Star Trek alum George Takei.
The irony of Trump golfing and tweeting—saying the mayor of San Juan wants “everything to be done for them”—it’s is thick as his skull. pic.twitter.com/BIdMZpWQfB
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) September 30, 2017
Actor Chris Evans outlined “a Trump thread in a time of crisis” and called the president “narcissistic,” “defensive,” and “insulting.”
A Trump Thread In A Time Of Crisis:
-Multiple references to himself in the third person. ✔️✔️ https://t.co/eR4V0FBhJe
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) September 30, 2017
Several observers noted that Trump was slamming San Juan’s mayor from the comfort of his golf course.
You literally sent this from a golf course you fat bigot https://t.co/M8wTmZFARU
— rob delaney (@robdelaney) September 30, 2017
“Trump mocks Mayor of San Juan from his private golf club,” tweeted comedian Dean Obeidallah. “Next Trump mocks homeless people from Trump Tower.”
Trump mocks Mayor of San Juan from his private golf club. Next Trump mocks homeless people from Trump Tower
— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@Deanofcomedy) September 30, 2017
Another journalist juxtaposed photos of where Cruz and Trump are currently spending their time. One showed Cruz wading waist-deep into a flooded area in Puerto Rico, and the other depicted Trump’s lavish golf resort.
As Trump blasts the mayor of San Juan, a quick look at where the two of them are spending their time and efforts right now. pic.twitter.com/Usi8iVfT4g
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) September 30, 2017
Ian Millhiser, an editor at the left-leaning outlet, ThinkProgress, tweeted, “When all of this is done I hope Trump is sentenced to live in the most devastated neighborhood in San Juan.”
When all of this is done I hope Trump is sentenced to live in the most devastated neighborhood in San Juan.
— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) September 30, 2017
Politico’s Josh Dawsey said that Trump’s attacks on Cruz were part of an established trend. “Are you all surprised Trump took a swing at San Juan’s mayor? She criticized him. The pattern is pretty much tried-and-true, no matter,” Dawsey tweeted.
Are you all that surprised Trump took a swing at San Juan's mayor? She criticized him. The pattern is pretty much tried-and-true, no matter.
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) September 30, 2017
“The situation is also dire in the US Virgin Islands,” said former Bush White House ethics lawyer, Richard Painter. “But at least he’s enjoying his golf game.”
The situation is also dire in the US Virgin Islands. But at least he's enjoying his golf game.https://t.co/d9enrvoqwl
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) September 30, 2017