Democratic Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota claimed that President Joe Biden was “warmly received” by Maui residents and that he demonstrated “understanding” of their losses.
Angry residents of Maui made obscene gestures at Biden’s motorcade during his trip to the island Monday. Biden’s response to a deadly wildfire that destroyed many buildings in the town of Lahaina, killing at least 114 people drew criticism from residents of the island.
The West Maui Land Company accused M. Kaleo Manuel, an official with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), of delaying a response to a request to use water to refill reservoirs used by the Maui Fire Department to fight the wildfire, Hawaii News Now reported.
In the news: House Speaker McCarthy Suggests Congress May Move To Investigate Maui Response
Herman Andaya, the director of the Maui Emergency Management Agency, resigned Thursday after the agency came under fire for not activating emergency sirens to warn people of the fires.
“I understand from my colleagues in Hawaii that President Biden was very warmly received there and I think also that the president has a unique capacity to connect with people and express empathy for what they’ve been going through,” Smith told “America’s Newsroom” co-hosts Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer. “What happened in Hawaii is, he was sharing stories of his loss of his first wife and daughter in a terrible car accident.”
Biden claimed he nearly lost his home in a fire during remarks Monday in Maui, when his house had a minor kitchen fire in 2004 that firefighters extinguished in 20 minutes.
On multiple occasions, he declined to comment on the disaster, including one instance while he was vacationing in Delaware.
In the news: Maui Emergency Manager, Herman Andaya, Resigns After Backlash For Not Sounding Sirens
“He is understanding it and demonstrating that understanding not only by being there but by making sure the full force of the federal government is being brought to help these poor individuals who have suffered such loss in Hawaii,” Smith said.
“You know, I have to say also, it is kind of incredible to see some politicians trying to take advantage of the grief and the misery in Hawaii to try to score political points here,” Smith added.
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