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Trump confronts storm threatening his re-election and property

Aug 31 2019 21:45
Justin Sink and Alyza Sebenius, Bloomberg

Donald Trump and the White House prepared over the weekend to confront Hurricane Dorian, whose approach toward the coast of Florida threatens both the president's re-election and his personal property.

On Friday night, the National Hurricane Centre said Dorian had "strengthened to an extremely dangerous" Category 4.

Trump told reporters as he departed the White House earlier in the day. He said there was a "5% chance" that the hurricane would miss the state.

"We're thinking about a Florida evacuation but it's a little too soon," he said. "We'll probably make that determination on Sunday."

Late Friday night, the hurricane centre said that "life-threatening storm surge and devastating hurricane-force winds are possible along portions of Florida's east coast by early next week, but since Dorian is forecast to turn northward near the coast, it is too soon to determine when or where the highest surge and winds will occur."

Trump cancelled a planned weekend trip to Poland to monitor the storm.

Florida is critical to the president's chances for re-election, making it imperative that the government not fumble any storm response. The state is also home to the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach as well as his golf resorts in Jupiter and Miami, any of which could face the brunt of the hurricane.

"Mar-a-Lago can handle itself," Trump said on Friday.

The White House's efforts underscore what's at stake for the Trump administration, which came under criticism for its handling of Hurricane Maria, a deadly Category 5 hurricane that proved catastrophic to Puerto Rico in 2017.

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew blasted South Florida, leaving 65 people dead and causing billions of dollars in damage, months before President George H.W. Bush was defeated for re-election.

In 2005, the political standing of his son President George W. Bush plunged in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which wreaked havoc in New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast.

At the Miami resort that the president's promoted as a potential site for next year's Group of Seven summit, Trump National Doral, receptionists warned guests on Friday to prepare for power failures and limited service. Down by the pool, workers in blue polo shirts and white shorts stacked chaise lounges.

A botched response to the storm could threaten Trump's standing in Florida, which is crucial to his re-election hopes. He won the state - which voted twice for Barack Obama - by just over one percentage point, and a loss in 2020 would severely complicate his path to remain in the White House.

On Friday he declared a state of emergency in Florida after lawmakers representing the state asked for the designation before the storm strikes.

donald trump  |  us  |  world economy  |  hurricane dorian
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