Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana Friday morning to tour the flood damaged state where at least 13 have been killed and 30,000 have been forced to leave their homes.
Trump and Pence emerged from the Trump campaign airplane together Friday morning, but Pence arrived in the state shortly before Trump.
“Pence, along with his wife Karen and daughter Charlotte, received a briefing on the damage from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, Lieutenant Gov. Billy Nungesser and Commissioner Eric Skrmetta,” ABC News reported.
Notably, Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, did not brief Pence.
On Thursday, Edwards warned Trump not to turn his visit to Louisiana into a “photo op.”
Neither Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton nor President Barack Obama intend to visit Louisiana over the weekend, as Breitbart News reported on Thursday.
Mainstream media outlets, which were harshly critical of President George W. Bush’s handling of the 2005 Katrina flooding of New Orleans, have refused to criticize President Obama’s failure to leave his Martha’s Vineyard vacation to visit Louisiana.
Chris Cilizza, writing at the Washington Post, for example, offered this defense of the president: “Here’s Why President Obama Isn’t Stopping His Vacation to Visit the Louisiana Flooding.”
The I-can’t-believe-he-is-on-vacation-while-terrible-news-event-happens narrative is neither new nor unique to Obama. George W. Bush was regularly pilloried by his political opponents for extended vacations at his ranch in Crawford, Tex. (Bush once took a five-week break during the summer of 2005.)
And, as has been documented ad nauseam, there’s really no such thing as a vacation for a president of the United States.“Presidents don’t get vacations — they just get a change of scenery,” Nancy Reagan famously told critics of her husband’s regular trips to the family’s ranch. Work, especially in this digital age, follows you around.
Still, it’s worth noting this moment. And that’s because it speaks to Obama’s unique and long-lasting commitment to not playing by a core rule of modern politics: making at least some decisions based on “how it looks” and/or “how it will play.”
Obama has long been a rejectionist on this front. His stubborn refusal to rebut claims regarding what was in the Affordable Care Act badly hamstrung his party’s attempt to win the fight for public perception on the law. His unwillingness to say the words “radical Islamic terror” have become a hobbyhorse for conservatives and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. And so on and so forth.
Obama just doesn’t like to fake it. If he doesn’t want to do something or thinks it’s stupid to do it — regardless of whether it actually is stupid — he won’t do it.
On Thursday, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson explained that President Obama was not going to interrupt his Martha’s Vineyard vacation to visit Louisiana because “he has a very busy schedule.”
That schedule on Thursday included a round of golf with television star Larry David and Bain Capital co-managing director Jonathan Lavine.
Hillary Clinton has offered no public comment on the Louisiana flooding since this tweet on Thursday:
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 16, 2016
UPDATE: AP reports on Trump’s visit to Louisiana Friday morning:
Donald Trump is receiving a warm reception as he tours a heavily-damaged portion of East Baton Rouge Parish in Louisiana.
The GOP nominee and his running mate Mike Pence were greeted by a crowd of supporters after visiting a local Baptist church where volunteers have gathered.
“Thank you for coming, Mr. Trump,” one woman screamed.
“We knew you would be here for us!” another shouted.
Trump greeted the crowd, shaking hands and signing hats.
But he turned down a plate of the south Louisiana specialty, jambalaya, offered to him.
Donald Trump and Mike Pence have stopped at a Baptist church in a heavily damaged portion of East Baton Rouge Parish.
The Republican candidates met a group of volunteers who have been cooking meals for flood victims and helping the elderly gut their homes.
Trump asked questions about the extent of the damage and thanked volunteers for their efforts.
The candidate also met with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. Perkins own home was flooded.
The prominent Christian conservative says he wants Trump to “let the country know” about the extent of the damage.
Many Louisianans feel the flooding has been ignored by the national news.