Lincoln Project slams Trump over Puerto Rico response in new ad targeting Latino voters across battleground states

Group of current and former Republicans aiming to unseat the president recall his administration's fledgling response to Hurricane Maria in new attack ad

Chris Riotta
New York
Friday 14 August 2020 17:55 BST
Donald Trump calls government's response to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria a 'incredible unsung success'
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A prominent group of Republicans aiming to unseat Donald Trump in the November election has released a series of damning new political advertisements targeting Latino voters in crucial battleground states, according to a new report.

The Lincoln Project, which has become known for its consistently-viral ads attacking the president and his allies in Washington, reportedly made a six-figure ad buy in states that helped Mr Trump win the election in 2016, including Arizona and Texas.

The advertisements focus on the Trump administration’s response to Hurricane Maria and its devastating impact on Puerto Rico, according to Newsweek, in which more than 3,000 people died.

While 3.5 million US citizens live on the island, many residents have since moved to states like Florida and Arizona, as Puerto Rico has suffered a slow recovery from the hurricanes and numerous earthquakes that followed. Election analysts have said those Americans could form a powerful voting bloc in critical states during the 2020 elections.

Mr Trump’s response to the devastation in Puerto Rico has been a contentious point of his presidency with many Latino voters, who said they observed significant differences in the amount of attention and funding states like Texas and Florida received in the wake of similar hurricanes.

Reports have also indicated the president considered selling Puerto Rico, a US territory, in the wake of the hurricane — news that upset many Latinos living on both on and off the mainland.

Mr Trump celebrated his response to the hurricane and its impact on the island amid mounting criticism at the time, saying Maria was the “hardest one we had by far because of the island nature”.

"I actually think it was one of the best jobs that's ever been done with respect to what this is all about”, he said. “The job that FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] and law enforcement and everybody did working along with the governor in Puerto Rico, I think was tremendous. I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success."

But Puerto Ricans decried the president’s response, and his short visit to the island nearly two weeks later, in which he was seen on video throwing paper towels into a crowd of US citizens in need of emergency relief.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz described the president’s response to the hurricane as a “stain on his presidency” and said his actions only “added insult to injury”.

Most national polls have shown former Vice President Joe Biden with a lead against Mr Trump among Latino voters.

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