East Palestine – and Donald Trump Visited First: Former President Donald Trump, without wearing a red tie, but with his trusty Make America Great Again hat, visited East Palestine, Ohio on February 22. This is the site of a nasty chemical spill by a Norfolk Southern train derailment earlier this month. Trump’s aim was to beat President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to the town, and he accomplished his goal.
Donald Trump Gets There First
Donald Trump criticized Biden and Pete Buttigieg for not appearing at the site of the train wreck that sent toxins such as vinyl chloride into the air which can cause liver problems and even cancer in some people.
Joe Biden Is Tending to Other Countries
Trump Says Biden Doesn’t Care About You
Trump claimed that Biden thinks that the American people were not top of mind while hundreds of millions of dollars more were being spent on another country while Ohioans suffered from the spill.
Pete Buttigieg Makes His First Appearance, Too Late Say Republicans
But Buttigieg finally showed up in East Palestine on February 23 and had to answer questions about the delay.
Trump focused his sights on Biden. It’s “terrible” the president has not visited Ohio, Trump said.
Trump claimed that he had forced the issue and alerted the Biden administration on the need for a personal touch with the people of East Palestine.
It’s Time to Crack Open Trump Water
Trump said FEMA should have been much earlier to the scene. Trump set up a delivery of thousands of water bottles to ensure residents had clean water, although Ohio Governor Mike DeWine had sipped tap water earlier to show citizens that it was safe to drink.
Trump, of course, leapt at the chance to execute a marketing tactic and had his logo printed on some of the water bottles.
Showing some solidarity with the common man, Trump also visited a local McDonald’s to grab a bite to eat.
East Palestine has become a flashpoint for politics. Conservatives have pointed out that the Biden administration doesn’t care about ordinary Americans. They have used “Where’s Pete?” as a meme to pressure the transportation secretary to show some passion and empathy for his job and care for the people affected by the crash and spillage of chemicals.
Pete Buttigieg has claimed that his visit was delayed because he wanted to allow the National Transportation Safety Board to complete their investigation without pressure from the office of the secretary.
GOP: Buttigieg Should Resign
This perceived dalliance had Republicans steaming mad with senators calling for Buttigieg’s resignation or firing and the White House saying the president had complete confidence in the secretary.
Trump said if the situation does not improve he would come back to Ohio.
This Incident Is Right in Trump’s Wheelhouse
The trip can be seen as a win for the former president. It backs up his America First movement by showing people that he cares more about their hardships than he does about far-flung and expensive wars. This is an argument that some Republicans are making more – than money spent in Ukraine could be better invested at home.
East Palestine as a salient issue is not going away. It will galvanize Conservatives and the MAGA faithful to show that Washington is not concerned about protecting ordinary Americans and that politicians like Buttigieg are concerned more about their political future than they are about the wellbeing of Ohioans.
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.