Update: And now President Trump has talked about another U.S. territory struck by hurricanes as if it's a foreign country. He said in a speech at the Values Voters Summit on Friday morning that he met with the "president" of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Virgin Islands don't have a president; they have a governor, Kenneth Mapp, with whom Trump met 10 days ago. In fact, their president is none other than Trump himself, since they are Americans.
Trump's flub comes a day after Rick Perry made a similar error on Puerto Rico.
A new poll shows that 55 percent of Americans think the Trump administration hasn't done enough to help Puerto Rico, and that 52 percent believe Trump doesn't even care about the U.S. territory's problems after Hurricane Maria.
His energy secretary's latest “oops” moment isn't going to help in that regard.
During a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing Thursday, Energy Secretary Rick Perry mistakenly referred to Puerto Rico as a country while talking about how to repair its energy grid.
Here's the exchange with Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.):
CASTOR: What is your plan to build a more distributed grid there with the modern technology that's at our fingertips?
PERRY: Congresswoman Castor, you have just pointed out the real challenge that this country faces in dealing with the territory and the citizens of Puerto Rico. That is a country that already had its challenges before this storm . . .
CASTOR: Well, they're — it's America. They're American citizens, so it's not a country. But could you just detail, since the time is limited . . .
PERRY: Yeah, that's the reason I called it a territory, ma'am. I apologize for misstating here and calling it a country.
In fairness to Perry, immediately before his flub, he did call Puerto Rico a territory. So it was clearly a momentary slip of the tongue rather than his not knowing the difference.
Perry, of course, can't seem to escape such flubs, most notably forgetting during his 2012 presidential campaign the name of the third U.S. government department that he wanted eliminated. He punctuated that painful debate performance with the “oops” heard round the world.
But at a time when Trump is flirting with pulling aid out of Puerto Rico, and some in the United States and the territory think the federal government just doesn't get it or care, calling Puerto Rico a country won't provide any reassurances.