Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg slipped into East Palestine, Ohio, early Thursday morning to talk rail safety reform while taking a shot at former President Donald Trump for relaxing regulations, an effort that came across to many as a feeble attempt to change the narrative and shift the attention away from the residents and their dire needs in the aftermath of the Norfolk Southern train derailment.
The decision to burn off toxic chemicals following the derailment three weeks ago has resulted in an environmental disaster. Several cars contained vinyl chloride, which becomes hydrogen chloride and phosgene when burned. Phosgene is a deadly gas that was used during World War I.
President Joe Biden, who opted to make a surprise visit to Ukraine earlier this week to promise even more financial support before giving a speech in Poland, has not visited East Palestine, and somewhat surprisingly, CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond asked White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at Thursday’s press briefing why that is — the question coming after former President Donald Trump visited the town on Wednesday.
“The president frequently visits the sites of many natural and manmade disasters,” Diamond said. “I’m just struggling to understand why the president wouldn’t go to East Palestine. Does it simply not meet the bar for a presidential visit.”
“There’s no reason to struggle, I don’t think, on this question,” Jean-Pierre answered. “I think when you look at how the federal agencies have responded from day one and took this very seriously… They are the ones that deal with these types of chemicals spills, they are the ones who are the leaders on this.”
Reporter: "I'm struggling to understand why the president wouldn't go to East Palestine. Does it simply not meet the bar for a presidential visit?"
Karine Jean-Pierre: "Look I don't … I … it's … I wanna be very clear here. Um. There's no reason to struggle." pic.twitter.com/sMyag0BipO
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) February 23, 2023
When pressed on a potential presidential visit to the troubled town, KJP had nothing to offer.
“No, it’s — I — I — look, I want to be very clear here. I don’t — again, I don’t have anything to share on a presidential visit. I — not at this time, or anything to announce,” she said.
Trump was asked by a reporter during his visit if he had a message for Biden and he replied, “Get over here.”
‘Not forgotten’: Ohioans praise Trump for visiting their town after toxic train derailment, rip Biden’s Ukraine trip https://t.co/Paiu29fWGk pic.twitter.com/pGohsrRYDK
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) February 23, 2023
“You are not forgotten,” Trump told residents of East Palestine. “In too many cases, your goodness and perseverance were met with indifference and betrayal.”
The former president commented on Biden’s priorities when he added, “You have a president going to Ukraine and you have people in Ohio that are in desperate need of help.”
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