Republicans Push Back Against Trump’s Lies About Hurricane Maria’s Death Count

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When you’re President Donald Trump and you lose Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis, you’ve really screwed things up. The two Florida Republicans are running for the U.S. Senate and Florida governor’s office, respectively, and they have now both pushed back against the president’s Thursday assertion that the official death toll of Hurricane Maria is inflated.

Trump made the claim in a pair of tweets, claiming that Democrats staged the higher death toll as a political attack on his administration. In reality, the death toll of nearly 3,000 people covers people who were found in an independent study commissioned by the governor of Puerto Rico himself to have died from the effects of the storm. For months and months, the island languished without electricity and other basic necessities, and in that time, many people lost their lives in the struggle.

Trump says that never happened. According to him, anyone who did die perished only due to causes like “old age.”

In response, Rick Scott — who’s the current Florida governor and running to unseat incumbent Florida Democrat Bill Nelson in the U.S. Senate — asserted:

‘I disagree with [Trump] – an independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. Rosselló agreed. I’ve been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand. The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching. I’ll continue to help PR’

To be clear, Scott’s assertion against Trump’s latest conspiracy theory doesn’t turn him into a political savior. What’s happened, instead, is simply that the ardent right wingers who have been with Trump through it all can’t get on board with the utter denial of reality that the president drowns himself in.

One such conservative is Ron DeSantis, the Florida Republican Congressman running to be the next governor of the state. He was Trump’s favorite candidate in the primary, rallying with the president ahead of the recent primary election in which he beat out current Florida Secretary of Agriculture Adam Putnam. He’s made his mark through means like casual racism lobbed at his opponent Democrat Andrew Gillum and dismissing efforts to provide better healthcare to more people as “socialist.”

Even he, however, couldn’t get on board with the president’s blatant disregard for the thousands of Americans who lost their lives to the effects of Hurricane Maria.

His campaign shared a statement:

‘Ron DeSantis is committed to standing with the Puerto Rican community, especially after such a tragic loss of life. He doesn’t believe any loss of life has been inflated.’

These statements highlight the unique place the Republican Party finds itself in ahead of the midterms later this year. With less than two months to go, Democrats are aiming to take control of one if not both houses of Congress, and they’re definitely on their way, with new national generic Congressional ballot polling placing them more than ten percent ahead.

Republicans might find themselves wishing they could distance themselves from Trump in light of those numbers — but it’s not as though they can erase his impact.

Featured Image via YouTube screenshot

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