Top Florida GOP members distance themselves from Trump's Puerto Rico claims

Andrew Caballero  AFP  Getty ImagesA large rain cloud passes over a day before the arrival of hurricane Florence in Wilmington N.C. on Sept. 12 2018

Puerto Rico has conceded that Hurricane Maria killed more than 1,400 people on the island past year and not just the 64 in the official death toll. He said the toll was no greater than 18 when he visited the island a year ago and "did not go up by much".

A recent federal report found that almost 3,000 people died in Maria's wake in Puerto Rico, with damages estimated at about $100 billion.

Last month, it was placed at 2,975 after the government commissioned an independent study by public health experts at George Washington University.

It was that number on which Puerto Rican authorities based their official tally.

"What is offensive to many of us is that even though the president dropped the ball, he is now doing a victory dance in the end zone".

Trump's praise on Twitter for his handling of the government's recovery operations on Puerto Rico came after he told reporters that the rescue effort there was an "incredible, unsung success".

Trump later added in a second tweet that the larger reported death toll was the work of Democrats attempting to recast the president's successful response to the tragedy. "Those are just the facts of what happened". "I love Puerto Rico!".

The president ignited controversy when he tweeted that the approximate 3,000 death toll was inflated by Democrats.

If the new figures are accurate, Hurricane Maria is the deadliest storm to have hit Puerto Rico since the 1899 San Ciriaco hurricane. That left him with enough phone time to insult Jamie Dimon, the J.P. Morgan Chase CEO who said he could beat Trump in 2020 because he's "smarter than he is".

Cora's comments came as the US braces for Hurricane Florence, which is expected to cause heavy damage as it slams into the Carolinas this week.

He said it was "not helpful" for either the president or one of his chief critics on the administration's response, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, "to be talking about it in a political way".

"Only Donald Trump could see the tragedy in Puerto Rico and conclude that he is the victim", said Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat. "The loss of any life is tragic".

"I hate talking about politics and all that, but I think this is more than politics".

Red Sox manager Alex Cora, a native of Puerto Rico, objected to President Donald Trump's comments on Twitter about the devastation Hurricane Maria did to his home in 2017. "I said it and I'll say it again". "It was just such a powerful storm", the congressman said, adding that he believes Trump "has been, I think, overly criticized for his response".

Another study carried out by Harvard University and published in May estimated the death toll from the hurricane and its aftermath could have been higher than 4,600.

"I hate that people make it a political issue", Cora said before Thursday night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

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