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Donald Trump’s East Palestine Visit: A Shameful Publicity Stunt?

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Image Credit: Gage Skidmore.
Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Should Donald Trump go to East Palestine? The former president is set to visit the site of the major train derailment today. Is this a good idea? 

After several days of touting that he plans to visit East Palestine, the Ohio town plagued by a February 3 train derailment and subsequent toxic spill earlier this month, former President Donald Trump will make that visit on Wednesday. 

According to ABC News, Trump’s visit is meant to contrast with the Biden Administration’s response to the derailment, as President Biden has not yet visited the area.

In fact, East Palestine’s mayor, Trent Conaway, called it the “biggest slap in the face” that the president visited Ukraine rather than Ohio. 

Donald Trump expressed similar sentiments. 

“You have a president going to Ukraine and you have people in Ohio that are in desperate need of help,” Donald Trump said in Florida this week, per ABC News.

“The people of East Palestine need help. I’ll see you on Wednesday!”

Michael Regan, the EPA administrator, has already been to East Palestine twice, and EPA and Department of Transportation personnel have been on the ground since shortly after the derailment. 

FEMA and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a joint statement about the response last week: 

“FEMA and the State of Ohio have been in constant contact regarding emergency operations in East Palestine,” the statement said. “U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA have been working together since day one. Tomorrow, FEMA will supplement federal efforts by deploying a Senior Response Official along with a Regional Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) to support ongoing operations, including incident coordination and ongoing assessments of potential long term recovery needs.”

Donald Trump: A Visit with a Motive? 

Donald Trump, earlier in the week, had claimed that Biden had announced the issuing of federal aid from FEMA only after Trump announced his plans to visit Ohio, although it’s far from clear whether the two had any connection. 

However, the visit raises questions of whether Donald Trump is more interested in using the calamity in Ohio as a political cudgel, rather than doing anything to actually help those suffering.

Donald Trump, during his presidency, was not always at his best while visiting disaster areas, as anyone who remembers the then-president tossing  paper towels in Puerto Rico can attest. 

Also, per a Yahoo News analysis, Trump as president had withdrawn some EPA regulations related to “high hazard” trains. The Trump Administration, per Yahoo, had “rolled back the rule on trains carrying flammable liquids, stating that the cost of the new braking systems outweighed the benefits of accident prevention.”

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, this week, alleged something much uglier: That the Biden Administration has been slow to respond to the situation in Ohio because most of the people who live in the area are white. 

“East Palestine is overwhelmingly White, and it’s politically conservative,” Carlson said on his show this week. “That shouldn’t be relevant…  but it very much is.” He went on to accuse Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg of not caring about the plight of that town in Ohio, because of a separate cause he has embraced: that, per Carlson, “we have too many White construction workers.”

In fact, Buttigieg’s initiative was about an established problem of racial minorities not getting opportunities to work in construction, something that’s been a legitimate issue for a long time. 

Another Fox News host, Jesse Watters, took it even further, accusing the Biden Administration of “spilling toxic chemicals on poor white people in Ohio,” as though the derailment and spill had been intentional. 

“This notion of a premeditated project of elite Democratic neglect is absurd, given recent history,” columnist Greg Sargent wrote in the Washington Post about Carlson and Watters’ insinuation about the spill.

“Biden presided over passage of bills, such as the Inflation Reduction Act and the Chips and Science Act, that will pump huge sums into tech and green manufacturing in many regions that are a lot like East Palestine.

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Expertise and Experience: Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.



  1. Paddy Manning

    February 22, 2023 at 7:29 pm

    Democrat shills say it ain’t true so it ain’t true.
    What an abjectly dreadful article, quoting ddm party journalactivists as authorities. Author does not seem to presstitutes are despised.

  2. Tamerlane

    February 23, 2023 at 12:37 am

    Yes, we get it Silver, you’re a Democrat propagandist.

    Point is, the President currently couldn’t be bothered by Americans in need, and instead was abroad posing for propaganda and giving away our arms and treasure to a kleptocracy deliriously desirous of dragging us into WWIII w Russia to save their bacon… while former President Trump was meeting with Americans in need.

  3. H.R. Holm

    February 23, 2023 at 2:13 am

    Oh, Donald Trump going is a publicity stunt? Really? Figures that people would start claiming this. Hey, I haven’t seen Pathetic Joe go! Nor Cackling Kamala. Not even Pete the Buddha-Buddha-jej fake Trans. Secretary has put his joke of a persona and butt on the scene yet. Hey, Mr. Trump is still a former President and a Presidential candidate, and if he wants to go he has every right to, and if Trump haters don’t like it, then they can go pound sand. He brought pallets of bottled water and lunch for the town fire dept. That is loads more than anyone in the Biden administration has done. And the town was buoyed by the visit. Y’know, maybe Joe’s nursemaid handlers don’t want him to go because he might just trip and fall in one of those contaminated puddles and start lapping up the water thinking it’s lemonade or something. After all, he is an expert at tripping and falling, *he just did it again walking *up* the ramp to Air Force One* after his stunt visit to Kiev with its phony air raid photo-op arrangement with Lord Voldemort Z. Only Joe does his trips while going up. Or while riding a bicycle. And Kamala? She’d just wander about aimlessly and ask, “where’s the fire, can I see the fire? I like fires!” And of course the Buddha-Buddha of the many annual railway derailments (he claims) would interrupt his valuable personal affairs time off to ever bother. Why, we can’t have that, besides, he has to promote ‘equity’ in making sure black student school busses can fit thru underpasses like white student busses can. Somehow absurdities like that are his priority. But never mind that, everyone has to pile on Trump as always for any move he makes. At least he can move without falling flat on his face, literally, unlike some other Presidents we know, fake ones or not.

  4. Rick

    February 23, 2023 at 8:06 am

    Everything the fat guy does is for attention…unless there is danger, then he went to the safe room!

  5. Richard Hertin

    February 27, 2023 at 12:47 pm

    Trump did not bring any PAPERTOWELS, what happen???

  6. Jim Klimaski

    February 27, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Trump go to Ohio wasn’t a publicity stunt. Give me a break. The bottled Trump water. Who paid for it? – His Presidential Campaign.
    Biden is working to stop a local war from becoming a world war. He could do something by going to Kviv. What could he do in Ohio? He had the people come in immediately, assess the damage, start working on cleaning up the mess and determining who is at fault and who pays. Remember it was Trump who got rid of the safety protections because SFNB was going to save money and fire at safety inspectors. No one died at the train wreck. Thousands are dying in Ukraine. Biden is President of the whole country. Should he have gone shoveling snow in California? Trump was doing a campaign appearance; it wasn’t his money that paid for the water.

  7. Luis

    February 27, 2023 at 9:05 pm


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