A Hawaii state lawmaker, Diamond Garcia, criticized President Biden’s recent trip to Maui, describing it as a “slap in the face” to the local community. Garcia, who represents Hawaii House Minority Floor, expressed disappointment in Biden’s response to the devastating fires that took over 100 lives and leveled the city of Lahaina. He recounted that Biden visited Maui for less than 6 hours, during which he struggled with pronouncing officials’ names and appeared to fall asleep at a memorial event for fire victims.
Garcia emphasized the impact of Biden’s short visit on the affected families and the wider community. He highlighted the president’s lack of response to reporters when asked about the fires while vacationing in Delaware. The lawmaker expressed frustration that Biden’s visit seemed rushed and insufficient, questioning whether Hawaii was considered a priority despite being part of the United States.
During Biden’s trip, a video circulated showing him bowing his head and appearing to doze off, although some viewers argued that his eyes remained open and that he appeared alert. Garcia found this behavior disrespectful, especially as families poured their hearts out and shared their experiences with the president.
The comparison made by Biden between the deadly blazes in Maui and a kitchen fire he experienced in 2004 also drew criticism from Garcia. He stated that local families viewed this comparison as inappropriate and indicative of a lack of basic empathy. Furthermore, the $700-per-household pledge from FEMA was regarded as insufficient, leading many to feel like second-class citizens.
Garcia reiterated that the dissatisfaction with Biden’s visit and response to the disaster was not a partisan issue. Even as a Republican lawmaker in a heavily Democratic state, he highlighted the disappointment shared by many Hawaiians, emphasizing that true federal support was expected in times of crisis.
In a related story, East Palestine Ohio Republican Mayor Trent Conaway echoed the sentiments expressed by Garcia, citing a similar lack of urgency from President Biden in response to a derailment that caused a toxic situation in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Although Biden has promised to visit the affected communities, Conaway remarked that it may be too little, too late.
Overall, the criticism towards President Biden’s visit to Maui centers around his seemingly indifferent response to the devastating fires and his lack of empathy and support for the affected communities.