Biden’s trip to Puerto Rico rekindles memories of Trump’s

Five years to the day after his predecessor came to the island and produced some indelible drama and images, Biden made his own survey of a hurricane’s damage.

PONCE, Puerto Rico — Hours after having touched down in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, President Joe Biden arrived at a steamy school gymnasium adorned with makeshift tables and red and blue tablecloths upon which supplies of food had been set.

There were 10-pound sacks of yellow onions, garlic, boxed juice, rice, nuts, ground corn, and cases of bottled water — all to distribute to victims of Hurricane Fiona, which had battered the island two weeks ago. Volunteers, including first lady Jill Biden, packed the supplies into large, white plastic bags, tied them up and added them to a growing pile.

When Biden entered the gym, the roughly 50 or so people inside applauded. In a suit jacket, blue oxford shirt with open collar and khakis, the president posed for a group photo, shook hands and chatted briefly with storm survivors.

Those in attendance could be forgiven if they were suffering, in that moment, from a bout of deja vu: Five years ago to the day, then-President Donald Trump had visited the island, too. He was there to survey the damage done by Hurricane Maria amid a heightening rift with the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, who had grown increasingly frustrated and critical with his hurricane response.

Instead of an indoor basketball court, Trump went to a makeshift supply center at Calvary Chapel. While he took the time to hand out supplies, he also decided to shoot paper towels, as if he were the presidential incarnation of Steph Curry and the arms of the needy in front of him were an inviting basketball net.

“There’s a lot of love in this room,” Trump declared thereafter. He gave his team an A+ grade.



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