Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy turned the spotlight on the glaring difference between President Biden’s response to the Hurricane Idalia crisis in Florida and his initially lackluster reaction to the devastating wildfire in Maui.
The pointed question left White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre visibly perturbed.
Doocy, known for his tough questioning, wasted no time in addressing the stark contrast between the Biden administration’s “robust” preparations for Hurricane Idalia and the president’s initial “no comment” response to the mounting death toll in Maui while he was on vacation in Delaware, according to the White House’s Wednesday press briefing transcript.
He inquired, “Did you, guys, realize that the initial Hawaii wildfire response was not that good? Or is it just easier for people to get help from the White House when the president is not on vacation?”
Jean-Pierre, clearly on the defensive, dismissed Doocy’s premise, stating that his question was “wrong” and “flawed in many, many ways.”.
She emphasized, “If you talk to … the governor of Hawaii, the senators of Hawaii, the folks on the ground, they would say that the president reacted in record time when it came to dealing with the wildfires … making sure that they got everything they need on the federal level.”
She added that over 600 federal employees were deployed to assist in battling the Maui wildfires.
The press secretary continued to assert that Doocy’s question was flawed and advised him to “go speak to the governor and the local and state officials in Hawaii.”
However, recent reports have raised doubts about Jean-Pierre’s claims, revealing that top emergency officials from Maui were attending disaster training on a neighboring island during the crisis.
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden did not visit Maui until more than a week after the wildfire disaster, further damaging the perception of a sluggish response.
In fact, during the Maui crisis, the president decided to embark on a family vacation at Lake Tahoe, residing in billionaire Tom Steyer’s rented residence for an eight-night stay, as reported by the New York Post
However, during his highly publicized visit to Maui, Biden made an ill-advised comparison between the deadly wildfire and a kitchen fire in his past, which drew criticism from residents who felt their plight was being trivialized.
Complaints of a slow response from FEMA also marred the crisis, though the White House maintained it was collaborating closely with Hawaii Gov. Josh Green throughout the ordeal, according to a fact sheet the White House released recently.
House Republicans on the Oversight and Accountability Committee have announced plans to investigate the administration’s response to the Maui wildfire, The Hill reported.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Idalia unleashed its fury upon Florida’s Gulf Coast this week, making landfall as a catastrophic Category 3 storm, according to CBS News.
It left more than 146,000 households without power and caused storm surges, damaging winds and widespread flooding. Tragically, two lives have been lost in vehicle accidents attributed to the storm.
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell provided an update during the press conference, reporting that over 1,000 FEMA personnel are deployed in Florida and other affected states.
Criswell said she is in Florida to “join the governor and see first-hand the impacts on the communities so we can determine what level of assistance” is needed for the affected areas. She will personally travel to the disaster zone to report directly to the president on ongoing recovery and response efforts.