The White House has defended President Biden’s “no comment” response when he was asked about the tragedy unfolding in Hawaii. The President was in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, at the time, and during a morning bike ride, reporters first asked for a comment on events in the Aloha State. He replied, “We’re looking at it.” Later, while the President was returning home after an afternoon relaxing on a beach, he was questioned again, this time he said, “No comment.”
A statement from the White House said the President is very concerned about what occurred in Hawaii and “has mobilized a robust whole-of-government response effort to support immediate and long-term rescue and recovery efforts in Maui.”
The statement went on to say that the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Army, the Navy, and the Small Business Administration were all heavily involved in the relief and recovery effort on the island of Maui, which was worst affected in the wildfires that raged through the area recently.
Both Republicans and Democrats criticized the President for what many saw as a half-hearted response, with one Hawaii Democrat describing it as “shocking.” Rep. Anna Paulina Luna echoed the sentiments of many online commentators when she said President Biden is once again prioritizing foreign countries over the United States. “Hawaii and the people of Hawaii are far more important than places like Ukraine,” she said.
Meanwhile, former President Trump called Biden’s behavior “absolutely horrible and unacceptable.” Trump also fiercely condemned Democratic Hawaii Governor Josh Green, saying he is more interested in blaming the tragedy on climate change and “other things that just happen to pop into his head.” Trump said the island should have been better prepared, and the aftermath has been chaotic.
On August 22, the official death toll stood at 114, with 850 people unaccounted for. The wildfires began on August 8 and spread quickly thanks to hurricane-force winds.