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Joe Biden Has Made a Massive Mistake

Joe Biden. Image by Gage Skidmore.
Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with supporters at a community event at the Best Western Regency Inn in Marshalltown, Iowa.

Donald Trump Upstages Joe Biden at Train Wreck Site in Ohio: Chalk up one up for Donald Trump as a political win when it comes to the train derailment that released toxic chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio.

Trump visited the site bringing with him a shipment of water and words of empathy and encouragement.

President Joe Biden decided not to go and sent his EPA administrator and secretary of transportation instead.

Republicans are still calling out Biden for his refusal to visit the accident site where an assortment of chemicals have seeped into streams and polluted the air after the wreck on February 3. 

Joe Biden Takes a Rain Check

Joe Biden said on February 24 that he had no plans of visiting Ohio and reminded reporters that Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and EPA Administrator Michael Regan plus officials from FEMA were there to aid and comfort residents.

Biden said he had been in extensive conversations with local and state policymakers in Ohio.

Clearly, that looks like one big mistake the GOP and Donald Trump will take advantage of. 

East Palestine Mayor Is Furious About Biden No Show

However, the mayor of East Palestine was critical of the president’s decision. Mayor Trent Conaway referenced Biden’s decision to make a snap visit to Ukraine where he announced more aid to Kyiv.

Conaway told Fox News that is “the biggest slap in the face. That tells you right now, he doesn’t care about us.”

Conaway also said he was “furious” the president was in Ukraine “giving millions of dollars away to people over there, not to us.”

Biden Says He Is Doing All He Can

Joe Biden said that his administration is engaged and that his personnel are helping the people of East Palestine and “doing all we can.”

He admitted there was a request for him to go to Ohio before he made the decision to visit Ukraine.

Joe Biden Was Supposed to Be the One Who Cared

Joe Biden ran on a promise to take care of people who were suffering during the Covid-19 pandemic in his race against Donald Trump.

He pointed to his empathy and decency that contrasted with Trump’s bombastic nature and seeming inattentiveness to people who were sick and dying from the coronavirus.

Donald Trump Barges In Like Gangbusters

The tables have turned in East Palestine.

Trump was able to steal the press coverage during his visit to the small Midwestern town. The former president said it was “terrible” Biden had not come to visit the people affected by the wreck. Trump told residents that “you are not forgotten.”

Water and Hats for America First

Trump brought a shipment of water bottles with him, some of which featured his logo. Trump wore his Make America Great Again hat to display his campaign slogan and passed out the headgear to voters.

Donald Trump said he would return to the area if people were still suffering and if the federal government’s response was lagging.

Buttigieg Is Tardy

Republicans also pointed out Buttigieg’s late response to the wreck and his decision to refrain from visiting until February 23, almost three weeks after the incident.

 Senator Marco Rubio of Florida requested that Buttigieg resign from his position from a slow response to East Palestine and other shortcomings regarding crises in which Buttigieg appeared uncaring, flat-footed, and distant.

Thirty-eight Norfolk Southern cars derailed during the accident and five of them carried dangerous chemicals such as vinyl chloride which can cause cancer.

Forgetting the Little Guy

Biden’s decision not to visit the site is an unforced error and plays right into Trump and Republican’s view that Democrats are a party of coastal elites who do not care about people in rural heartland areas.

Donald Trump was able to burnish his America First credentials while Biden showed he is a “globalist” who wished to only help people who live outside the country.

You Have Not Heard the Last Of It

Trump certainly achieved the upper hand and will likely use this as an anecdote on the campaign trail. He can say he beat Biden to the punch and that the president has better things to do than comfort people who are suffering from the incident.

This train wreck is a political football and no matter how much that Biden claims his people are delivering services to mitigate the disaster, he is criticized for not doing enough. This plays right into conservatives’ hands.

Trump Takes the Initiative

It reminds me of when Trump visited the southern border during the 2015-2016 presidential campaign with that infamous red hat and he helped give the impression that he cared more about illegal immigration than Hillary Clinton. The Democrats should watch events like this and make sure they do not lose the media and political battle to Trump.

Voters may conclude that America is coming in last and not first. The saga in East Palestine will create a popular chorus during the 2024 presidential campaign – that Trump is the leader who makes a difference during a crisis.

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Author Expertise and Experience: 

Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.