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Trump lashes out at Puerto Ricans after mayor's criticism of administration's relief effort

Cathleen Decker and Kurtis Lee, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

"Yay, President Trump punched a critic -- a critic who is on an island trying her best to help others where most of the people now have no homes, no power, and no running water. What a man he is!" Erickson wrote.

Later in the day, Trump appeared to go out of his way to show some sympathy for the 3.5 million citizens on the island, blaming the news media and Democrats for any suggestion that the recovery effort had been faulty.

"Despite the Fake News Media in conjunction with the Dems, an amazing job is being done in Puerto Rico. Great people!" he tweeted, adding later, "To the people of Puerto Rico: Do not believe the #FakeNews!"

Trump's comments marked the second straight weekend he has set off a national furor with tweets and comments that targeted nonwhites for criticism. Since last weekend -- including on Saturday -- he has gone after African American athletes protesting police violence by declining to stand when the national anthem is played. He has demanded that the National Football League fire all such protesters.

His tweets Saturday -- the only contact Trump had with the country Saturday as he stayed out of sight at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club -- carried similar racial overtones. But instead of casting his opponents as unpatriotic, Trump implied they were lazy. The comments also were in keeping with racial remarks he made in his campaign and presidency -- against immigrants, a judge of Mexican descent, the Muslim family of an Army captain killed in Iraq, a Latino beauty queen and others. In June he provoked international criticism when, in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack in London, he suggested that Mayor Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, had been politically correct rather than "smart" in countering threats.

As his critics noted, Trump has not been nearly as critical of whites, saying after the violent white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Va., that there were "very nice people" marching amid those carrying Nazi and confederate flags and assault rifles.

The tone of his reaction to Puerto Rico also has differed from his sympathetic response when Texas, Louisiana and Florida recently were struck by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Then the president consistently took pains to reassure affected residents, never suggesting anything but praise for their own efforts.

"Texas & Louisiana: We are w/ you today, we are w/ you tomorrow, & we will be w/ you EVERY SINGLE DAY AFTER, to restore, recover, & REBUILD!" he tweeted on Aug. 30.

The president also has suggested that Puerto Rico's deep fiscal problems will have to be considered when deciding how much to spend rebuilding it, yet he never suggested that money is an object in aiding Texas, whose governor has said it will need up to $180 billion from American taxpayers.

"Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!" Trump tweeted about Puerto Rico on Friday.

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