KIHEI, Hawaii—President Joe Biden on Monday compared the horrific fires in western Maui to a kitchen fire in his house during which he “almost lost” his “‘67 Corvette.” Locals condemned the comparison, saying it belittled the disaster that likely claimed over a thousand lives and caused billions of dollars worth of damage to local business owners, families, and Lahaina natives.
In an address to a crowd outside Lahaina, the town destroyed by the destructive wildfires, Joe Biden said:
Jill and I know what it’s like to lose a home. Years ago now, 15 years ago, I was in Washington doing “Meet the Press.” It was a sunny Sunday.
Lightning struck at home, on a little lake that’s outside of our home—like a big pond, and hit a wire that came up underneath our home into the heating ducts and air conditioning ducts.
To make a long story short, I almost lost my wife, my ‘67 Corvette, and my cat.
“This is the most despicable thing this president has ever said,” a restaurant owner in Kihei, Maui, told The Daily Signal via a text message Monday. “How do you compare almost losing your ******* Corvette to the children burned in their ******* homes, man?”
At a small sandwich shop north of Kihei, a former teacher, Kristen Goodwin, described how she felt after such a comment:
There are no words in response to something like that. There’s a thousand people still missing on this island, business owners who want people to come back, and who is going to come to a secluded island with people still missing?
The community members have rallied together and have taken care of each other. It was several days before [the feds] came and helped. They shut down a road for no good reason except they didn’t want people trampling over [rescue and search] sites.
Nobody understands that unless they’re here.
Of Joe Biden, she said, “I’m not voting for him again—that’s for sure. I’ll vote for Trump. I will never vote for him again.”
Goodwin also lambasted the president’s initial response to the wildfires:
The lack of connection, the lack of real emotion. Is Biden even there? The “no comment,” situation—how dare he? He could have said “Thoughts and prayers,” at least.
Especially when it’s a historical fire, the largest fire in recent American history and you said “no comment” then went back to bicycling for hours.
[His trip to Maui] just seemed like a photo op to me.
Biden’s visit to Maui involved landing at 11 a.m., Hawaiian Standard Time, traveling to a public speaking event outside of Lahaina, walking over charred property that locals are still restricted from accessing, and flying out not six hours later.
Leslie Santos, a retired university administrator and a native of Maui, asked The Daily Signal how a leader could be “so insensitive and lack the level of compassion of a basic human being?”
I’m not sure how anyone could compare the “almost loss” of a Corvette, a replaceable object, to the loss of life, loss of all one’s possessions, and the loss of livelihoods. I am offended.
There is no comparison to loss of life—especially the neighborhoods of innocent, non-replaceable children who perished.
How can a leader be so insensitive and lack the level of compassion of a basic human being? What happened to “extending kindness and care”?
I am so disappointed in Biden—and I am a Democrat.
This isn’t the first time Biden has outraged victims and survivors by claiming he understood their pain by inappropriately inserting unrelated stories from his life.
Joe Biden told Gold Star families whose 13 sons and husbands were killed in the botched U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan that he understood what it was like to lose a son in combat—comparing his son Beau’s death from cancer to the violent deaths of U.S. servicemen.
One of the Gold Star mothers told the New York Post that she was outraged—since “dying from cancer with his family months later” was nothing like not being able to be with her son at his death.
The White House has not yet issued a statement correcting, apologizing for, or providing additional context for the president’s comments.
Tony Kinnett is an investigative columnist for The Daily Signal, where this first appeared.
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