Donald Trump Loves Puerto Rico. Or At Least The Puerto Ricans Currently Resident In Florida.

Hey, Florida! Thanks for helping out Puerto Rico. Kind of.

See, President Trump has seen the polling coming out of the Sunshine State. He knows that Biden's lead in the crucial swing jurisdiction is down to two percent, and his advisors have told him he can win the way Sen. Rick Scott and Gov. Ron DeSantis did in 2018 when they bucked the blue wave: by chipping away at Democratic support with Latino voters. Cubans and Venezuelans already prefer Republicans anyway. So that leaves Puerto Ricans.

So, he's coming out in favor of Puerto Rican statehood!

Just kidding. Trump may be stupid, but his advisors are ... less stupid.

No, three years after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, Commander Craven has come around to extremely belatedly offering the territory a massive infusion of federal aid. You know, out of the goodness of his heart. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the likely 1.2 million Puerto Ricans, including hundreds of thousands who relocated there after the devastating storm in 2017, who could swing Florida in his favor.

As Hill correspondent Reid Wilson points out, Rick Scott likely owes his seat to Puerto Ricans who pulled the lever for him two years ago:

Scott took 42 percent of the vote in Osceola County, a Democratic bastion south of Orlando where President Trump took just 36 percent of the vote two years ago.

More Puerto Ricans moved to Osceola County, about 22,000, than to any other county in the country, except neighboring Orange County. Miami-Dade County was the third-most common destination for Puerto Ricans. Scott outperformed Trump in all three counties — and those votes alone gave him the margin he needed to beat Sen. Bill Nelson (D).

So now Trump is throwing cash instead of paper towels at Puerto Rico, in a blatant attempt to buy himself just enough love to win Florida's 29 electoral votes.

First of all, the Puerto Rican pharmaceutical industry was thriving in Puerto Rico when Obama left office, with 12 of the top 20 largest pharma companies doing business on the island. Second, power outages that persisted for almost a year after Hurricane Maria and are still common after storms due to Puerto Rico's perilously degraded power grid — a problem the Trump administration has done precious little about in the past three years — aren't exactly an incentive for multi-national companies to come in and set up shop. And third of all, does he think Puerto Ricans are stupid?

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, he picked a public fight with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, shit tweeting at her for days as she was rowing around her flooded city in a boat trying to rescue people. Later he accused Puerto Ricans of inflating the death toll "to make me look as bad as possible," and called his administration's disastrous response to the storm "an incredible, unsung success."

He was still at it two years later as Hurricane Dorian barreled toward the island, falsely accusing the island of netting twice as much federal aid as Florida and Texas combined.

In fact, the Trump administration blocked aid for Puerto Rico in January, when Puerto Ricans were still sleeping on the streets after a massive 6.4 magnitude earthquake rocked the island. Trump refused to release $16 billion in congressionally allocated relief funds until the island agreed not to spend any of it updating its failing electrical grid and nixed a planned $15/hour minimum wage on federally funded contracts. Needless to say, Texas and Florida never had to jump through hoops like that.

And yet on Friday, Trump blamed Puerto Ricans themselves for failing to modernize their own power lines.

"We're awarding $13 billion to permanently repair and replace thousands of miles of transmission and distribution lines that should have been done many years ago," he blarbled at his daily presser cum MAGA rally.

FFS, this asshole tried to offload Puerto Rico onto the Danes in exchange for Greenland because it was "dirty" and the people were poor.

House National Resources Committee Chair Raúl Grijalva was having none of it, pointing out that Trump didn't give a shit about Puerto Rico for three years, and now he's swanning in at the eleventh hour pretending to be the island's savior.

"President Trump talks about Puerto Rico like an unwanted colony full of people he thinks are dirty and not worth helping," Grijalva said in a statement released by the committee. "It will take years for Puerto Rico to repair the unnecessary harm this president and his incompetent assistants have caused the Puerto Rican people, and they won't forget it."

[Hill / NPR / NYT]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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