Eager to show heart in a moment of crisis, President Donald Trump handed out hot dogs, hugs and comforting words in the Carolinas on Wednesday as he surveyed the wreckage left by Hurricane Florence.
With residents still recovering from torrential rains that left widespread destruction and injury, Trump sought to strike a balance between comforter and cheerleader, mindful that he has been criticized in the past for not showing sufficient empathy in the face of tragedy.
During a packed day, he visited both North and South Carolina, distributed meals at a church, walked amid piles of sodden furniture in damaged neighborhoods, offered hugs and handshakes to residents and discussed the response efforts with local and state officials.
“America grieves with you and our hearts break for you. God bless you,” he said during a briefing at a marine base in Havelock, North Carolina. “We will never forget your loss. We will never leave your side. We’re with you all the way.”
The emotional words and comprehensive itinerary stood in contrast with Trump’s trip to Puerto Rico last year after Hurricane Maria, when he drew criticism for tossing rolls of paper towels into the crowd. Or his initial visit to Houston after Hurricane Harvey, when he did not meet with any storm victims.