President Trump on Thursday said the federal response to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico deserves a grade of 10 out of 10 as he met at the White House with Ricardo Rosselló, the governor of the U.S. territory.
“I would say it’s a 10,” Trump said, arguing that the destruction wrought by Hurricane Maria “was in many ways worse than anything people have ever seen.”
“It went right through the middle of the island, right through the middle of Puerto Rico,” Trump said as Rosselló sat by his side in the Oval Office.
Trump’s assessment was at odds with public polling — fewer than half of Americans approve of how he has handled a succession of hurricanes this year — and with the assessments of some local officials on the ground, including the mayor of San Juan.
Rosselló declined to give a numerical grade but said the White House thus far had answered “all of our petitions” in Puerto Rico, where much of the island remains without electricity weeks after the storm hit.
“You responded immediately,” Rosselló said when asked by Trump, “Did we do a great job?”
But Rosselló said the island still needs more resources, adding that that was the reason he had come to Washington to meet with Trump.
“The reality is we still need to do a lot more,” Rosselló said.
He also made a pitch for the federal government to “treat us equally.”
During the half-hour portion of the meeting opened to the media, Trump was joined by Vice President Pence; homeland security adviser Tom Bossert; Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long; and the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney.
“I think we did a fantastic job, and we’re being given credit,” Trump said. “We have done a really great job.”
While fielding questions from reporters, Trump was asked if would support making Puerto Rico a state. He declined to answer.
"Well, we're not talking about that now," the president said. "You'll get me into trouble with that question."