Trump Lobs Paper Towels, And Praise, on Island Visit

In States On

Except for that sad adjustment, the trip marked a well-worn routine for a president on his fourth visit to a disaster zone in two months: a pep rally-like briefing with officials in an aircraft hangar, a quick drive past twisted houses and uprooted trees and a brief, friendly encounter with victims of the destruction.

And like his earlier travels, it had its peculiar moments: He also gently tossed rolls of paper towels into a crowd that gathered to see him at Calvary Chapel, outside the island’s capital, San Juan.

This time, however, Mr. Trump flew into a different kind of turbulence. Over the weekend, the president lashed out at the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, after she complained that the federal response in Puerto Rico had fallen short of the responses in Texas and Florida. She was not mollified after meeting him.

“The first part of the meeting was a public-relations situation,” Ms. Cruz said in an interview with CNN about the briefing she attended with the president. While she said the White House staff was helpful and receptive, Mr. Trump’s communications style sometimes “gets in the way.”

“I would hope that the president of the United States stops spouting out comments that really hurt the people of Puerto Rico,” she said, “because, rather than commander in chief, he sort of becomes miscommunicator in chief.”

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