Trump Makes Nice, Says He ‘Will Always Be With’ People of Puerto Rico

President Donald Trump arrives to speak to the 2017 Value Voters Summit, Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Evan Vucci/AP

Just 24 hours after saying the federal government couldn’t “stay in Puerto Rico forever,” President Donald Trump switched gears Friday morning.

Complimenting the “wonderful people of Puerto Rico,” Trump vowed on Twitter to “always be with them!”

A short time later, during his speech at the Values Voter Summit Friday, he touched on the topic again, saying its “not even a question of a choice” when it comes to helping out Puerto Rico.

“These are people that are incredible people, they suffered gravely and we’ll be there, we’re going to be there. We have really— it’s not even a question of a choice,” he said. “We don’t even want a choice, we’re going to be there as Americans and we love those people and what they’re going through and they’re healing, and their states and territories are healing and healing rapidly.”

(He also incorrectly stated he met with the “President of the Virgin Islands.” He’s the President of the Virgin Islands, a U.S. territory).

Friday’s tone was much different than the rhetoric Trump has taken on Puerto Rico the past few weeks. In his series of tweets on Thursday, he seemed to suggest that Puerto Rico’s debt and previous infrastructure issues have made the hurricane devastation worse.

The mayor of San Juan — who hasn’t been afraid of criticizing Trump for the federal response to recovery in Puerto Rico — called Trump a “hater in chief” for his remarks on Thursday.

Watch his comments at the Value Voters Summit below:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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