US President Donald Trump shook hands with storm survivors in Puerto Rico and told them to be "proud" the island did not lose more lives to Hurricane Maria, on a trip created to quiet criticism of his administration's response to the disaster.
Trump received some criticism for telling Puerto Ricans they escaped the higher death toll of "a real catastrophe like Katrina". While the facility's director, Maria Betancourt, said she didn't believe the woman was distressed about the storm, the home was stifling hot on Wednesday after power was wiped out almost a month ago when Hurricane Irma sideswiped the island on September 7, though a generator has kept the lights on.
GQ correspondent Keith Olberman said Trump was tone-deaf and that he only cared about himself.
Bush and Trump have clashed before, with Trump taunting Bush as "low energy" during the 2015 Republican presidential primaries, visibly riling Bush.
In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Trump said that "we're going to have to wipe out" Puerto Rico's debt.
Scores of celebrities have led their own relief efforts to help the island's residents by chartering private planes filled with supplies. Many people on the island fear they could be left without power for months.
"This bad and abominable view of him throwing paper towels and throwing provisions at people, it's really-it does not embody the spirit of the American nation, you know", Mayor Carmen Cruz told MSNBC. "Everybody watching can really be very proud of what's taken place in Puerto Rico". "Sixteen versus literally thousands of people".
The death toll rose to 34 on October 4, according to New York Times.
"They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street and we're going to have to wipe that out", Trump told Rivera.
"It makes it you very proud to be an American to see the job they've done", he added.
On Sept. 30, the CEO of PACIV, an worldwide engineering firm based in Puerto Rico, Jorge Rodriguez, warned the U.S. Congress about the Puerto Rican government's alleged inability to handle an influx of funds and aid. "This is not about politics", Cruz said on Al Punto. "They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort", he added in a thread of tweets that sparked a spat between the pair. "And that's my experience over here in Guaynabo in the helping of thousands and thousands of people".
But 4 in 10 whites, 6 in 10 Hispanics and almost 8 in 10 blacks disapprove of the response in Puerto Rico.
Among the other signs of progress Friday, according to Puerto Rico's government: 78 percent of gas stations up and running, 73 percent of supermarkets open, and more than half of bank branches open. In an interview with MSNBC, she also said chatting with White House staff and informing them of what's happening on the island proved useful.