In Florida, which was badly hit by Hurricane Irma a year ago and which received thousands of Puerto Ricans fleeing the devastation of their homes, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis - who has built his campaign around his adherence to Trump's politics - tried to distance himself from the president's words.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to the GOP majority Thursday calling for the panel to request documents from the White House relating to the Puerto Rico response. "As time went by it did not go up by much".
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visit residents affected by Hurricane in Guaynabo, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico on October 3, 2017.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum said "no death is partisan and our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico deserved better from @realDonaldTrump before, during and after the hurricane".
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello says in a Facebook video post in Spanish that there should no more questions about the number of deaths from Hurricane Maria and the process used to arrive at that number. "Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000", Trump tweeted. "In the real world people died on your watch. By now we have over four studies that put the death total over the thousands", Dr. Domingo J. Marqués, associate professor of clinical psychology and director of the dialectical behavioral research and therapy program at Albizu University in San Juan, said via email.
Trump tweeted his doubts Thursday morning about an independent assessment that found 2,975 people died as a result of the storm almost one year ago.
"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico", Trump tweeted a little before 9 a.m. Thursday.
"Casualties don't make a person look bad", Ryan said. Harvard's report, which was based on systematic household surveys throughout Puerto Rico, reached a estimate of 4,645 storm-related deaths between September and December 2017, many as a result of "delayed or interrupted health care". Three weeks after Maria, a HuffPost producer, a cameraman and I traveled to Puerto Rico and experienced a glimpse of what life was like there for millions after the storm.
There has been no evidence to indicate that partisan politics has played a role in the calculation of the death tally, and George Washington University released a statement Thursday that said it stands by its work.
Puerto Rico's government is run by the New Progressive party, a pro-statehood, Puerto Rico-only party.
Dr. Carlos Santos-Burgoa - the lead researcher on the study and a well-known expert in global health, particularly Latin America - told the AP that the initial figure of 64 deaths reflected only people whose death certificates cited the storm.
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San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz fired off several tweets targeting Trump after Trump said "3,000 people did not die" and called the death count a move by Democrats to make him look bad.
"Damn it: this is NOT about politics this was always about SAVING LIVES".
When a reporter asked Trump about Maria in the Oval Office, he swiftly unleashed a fact-challenged defense of his response to the hurricane. He also trafficked in racist stereotypes about lazy Latinos by suggesting that people in Puerto Rico "want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort". Cruz maintains the federal government's response was slow and inadequate.
"When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from six to 18 deaths", Trump said. The list is arranged to show the most recent studies first.