Senate Hopeful Rick Scott Breaks With Trump Over Puerto Rico Deaths

President Trump talks about Hurricane Florence after a briefing in the Oval Office on Sept. 11 2018

Puerto Rico's government-led by a governor with the island's pro-statehood party who is also a Democrat-faced criticism for almost a year after the hurricane that it drastically undercounted the number of fatalities caused by Maria.

"You couldn't get to people for a long time on the island because roads were washed out, power was gone and the casualties mounted for a long time", Ryan said when asked about Trump's tweet.

"As time went by it did not go up by much", Trump wrote. Then, a long time later, they began to report large numbers, like 3000...,' one tweet reads.

Trump called the death toll a plot by Democrats to make him look bad.

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico", Trump tweeted, referring to a recent study that significantly expanded the U.S. government's initial assessment that 64 people died when Hurricane Maria battered the island last September.

In estimating the "true" death toll, researchers looked at historical data to estimate how many people would have died had the hurricane not hit the island.

Shortly after Trump's comments, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz shot back at the president. You don't control the president or hurricanes...

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With Hurricane Florence fast approaching the southeastern US and due to make landfall on Thursday, Trump pointed to his administration's emergency preparedness, saying he handled the situation in Puerto Rico well, despite what critics said. All told, about 1,800 people died in that 2005 storm.

Conservative commentator Erick Erickson tweeted Thursday that the media deserved blame for Trump's unsubstantiated assertions.

"I disagree with @POTUS- an independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. (Ricardo) Rosselló agreed", Gov. Rick Scott tweeted. "I don't think it's bad to say we could have done better in Puerto Rico".

"The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everybody did, working along with the governor in Puerto Rico, I think was tremendous", he continued.

Trump maintained as recently as Tuesday that his response to the storm was an "incredible unsung success".

The study also found that the elderly and low-income Puerto Ricans were the most affected by the storm. "Unless workers are allowed to compete, we're never going to see the wage gains we need". I don't know the answer to that question.

And the the federal government's relief effort was riddled with demonstrable failures: Despite receiving advance warning of the hurricane's likely landfall in Puerto Rico, the administration neglected to deploy satellite phones, generators, and reserves of food, fuel, and water in advance of the storm.

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