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story.lead_photo.caption President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Governor Ricardo Rossello of Puerto Rico in the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Washington.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump gave himself a "10" Thursday for his response to the widespread devastation Puerto Rico suffered after back-to-back hurricanes created a situation that the island's governor described as "catastrophic" as he met with Trump at the White House.

More than 80 percent of households in Puerto Rico remain without electricity about a month after Hurricane Maria, the second storm, dealt the island a severe blow. Asked when the 3.4 million U.S. citizens living there could expect power to be fully restored, Trump replied: "It's a very, very good question, actually."

Trump said it will take "a while" to build a new power plant or substantially renovate what was damaged by the storms. The president said most of the power that exists is being supplied by the "massive numbers" of generators he sent to the island.

"There's never been a case where power plants were gone," Trump said, seated alongside Gov. Ricardo Rossello in the Oval Office. "So it's going to be a period of time before the electric is restored."

Trump was also asked by a reporter to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, the White House response to Puerto Rico.

"I'd say it was a 10," Trump said. "I'd say it was probably the most difficult — when you talk about relief, when you talk about search, when you talk about all the different levels, and even when you talk about lives saved, you look at the number — I mean, this was — I think it was worse than Katrina, it was, in many ways, worse than anything people have ever seen."

Trump said the administration had personnel nearby before the storm hit, ready to go afterward, and that a "fantastic job" was done under the circumstances.

"I would give a 10," he repeated.

During a visit to Puerto Rico earlier this month to survey damage, Trump compared what happened there to a "real catastrophe" like Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans in 2005, killing hundreds when levees broke and flooded the city. Trump's comment was interpreted by some as minimizing Puerto Rico's suffering at a time when residents were struggling to get food and clean drinking water and coping without electricity.

Seated beside Trump, Rossello tried to strike an upbeat note despite saying "it's a catastrophic situation" in Puerto Rico. But he said, "We are going to beat this. We know we're going to build better than before," he said.

Rossello has been supportive of Trump, saying again Thursday that every request he's made of the president has been answered. The governor, who also met with key lawmakers on Capitol Hill, said Trump "has been clear that no U.S. citizen will be left behind."

Members of Congress from both parties have criticized the response to Puerto Rico as lackluster compared to the administration's reaction after hurricanes in Houston and parts of Louisiana and later in Florida.

The mayor of San Juan has also been a vocal critic of the response and of some of Trump's comments on Twitter.

Trump said he has given his "blessing" to Congress for a funding plan to help the debt-ridden island pay for the new power station. The electrical grid was in poor shape long before the storm hit.

The president also sought to clarify a tweet from earlier this month that seemed to suggest he was ready to cut off federal assistance to the U.S. territory, saying FEMA, the military and first responders can't stay "in P.R. forever!"

Trump said Thursday that "at a certain point," FEMA and other agencies have to leave the locations where the U.S. goes to help.

"I think the governor understands that FEMA, the military, the first responders cannot be there forever," he said. "And no matter where you go, they cannot be there forever."

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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  • gagewatcher
    October 19, 2017 at 1:28 p.m.

    the electrical grid was already in disrepair prior to the hurricanes. Hope the citizens of PR can see fit to have it fixed properly this time.

  • JakeTidmore
    October 19, 2017 at 5:05 p.m.

    Trump is living in a fantasy world.

  • mozarky2
    October 19, 2017 at 5:43 p.m.

    JT is living in BizarroWorld. Are you disparaging the work of the American relief workers there, JT?
    Once again, a "prog" goes BSC over President Trump.
    What more would YOU have done in PR?

  • carpenterretired
    October 19, 2017 at 9:51 p.m.

    Living in a fantasy world that they believe is realty is the norm for the mentally ill.

  • JakeTidmore
    October 20, 2017 at 12:17 a.m.

    For a list of all the problems still affecting PR as well as the missteps by FEMA and the government:
    ht tp://w m/news/weather/hurricane/article179744081.html
    Over and over, Trump shows that his biggest fault is his bragadaccio nature. Everything is "great", "10", "super", etc. Ad nauseum. Because of this, he gets criticized. This brings out his other terrible fault - his thin-skinned temperament.
    Let's cut the BS about how great it's been. The island is still without power, major shortages of water, fuel, & food; especially clean water. Response time was extremely slow and it certainly didn't do any good to have a president playing golf and buddying around with his rich friends while the folks in PR suffered.
    Trump simply is not presidential and his lack of experience in governing, his poorly organized staff, and his lack of empathy handicap him tremendously.
    Trump's pitiful paper towel tossing response in PR brought this idea to mind: I would like to start a movement (and there's a pun in this as you'll soon see) to start calling toilet paper "Trump" paper.  And when he makes public appearances, people toss rolls of Trump paper in his direction.  Trump confetti, so to speak. 
    "Trump" paper is the official paper of the movement.  It's to wipe up all the messes he makes, all the lies he tells, and the insults he delivers, and all the sh*t that makes him the crappiest man ever to sit in the Oval Office.

  • JakeTidmore
    October 20, 2017 at 12:22 a.m.

    Speaking at a George W. Bush Institute event in New York, Geo. Bush didn't use Trump's name, but his target became clearer as the speech progressed. Here's a sampling:
    - “Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”
    - “We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism.”
    - “We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. . . . Argument turns too easily into animosity.”
    - “It means that bigotry and white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed, and it means the very identity of our nation depends on passing along civic ideals.”
    - “Bullying and prejudice in our public life … provides permission for cruelty and bigotry.”
    - “The only way to pass along civic values is to live up to them.”
    Any one of these quotes in isolation could be dismissed as highflying rhetoric aimed at the general coarsening of our political culture — or the rise of forms of nationalism and extremism that clearly exist outside the Oval Office.
    But almost each of these quotes has some connection to Trump. “Conspiracy theories and fabrications?” Check and check. “Nationalism and nativism?” Check. A “degraded discourse?” Big check. “Bigotry and white supremacy?” Trump was criticized for not calling them out strongly enough in Charlottesville. “Bullying?” Huge check. Not “living up to civic values?” Check, definitely.
    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) drew plenty of attention for alluding to “spurious nationalism” in a speech this week. But Bush's comments actually hark back to a more thorough takedown of Trump's worldview that McCain delivered in February. Here's what McCain said at the Munich Security Conference in Germany:
    - The founders of the Munich conference “would be alarmed by an increasing turn away from universal values and toward old ties of blood and race and sectarianism.”
    - “They would be alarmed by the hardening resentment we see toward immigrants and refugees and minority groups — especially Muslims.”
    - “They would be alarmed by the growing inability — and even unwillingness — to separate truth from lies.”
    - “They would be alarmed that more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent.”
    Sound familiar?
    It's possible Bush would argue that Trump is more a symptom of all of these unhealthy trends in American democracy than the root of them. But in drafting a prepared speech like that, he had to know how those words would be perceived.
    (Source: WAPO article released today; "Analysis | George W. Bush’s unmistakable takedown of Trumpism — and Trump")

  • TimberTopper
    October 20, 2017 at 4:55 a.m.

    Trump, grading himself on the Trump Curve.