Trump's Hurricane Maria death toll criticism distracting from efforts on Florence, says pollster

Pollster Mallory Newall said on Monday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE's criticism of the death toll from Hurricane Maria is distracting from essential safety efforts for Tropical Storm Florence. 

"If the president's goal is to try and get people to focus on the positive things that the government did in the aftermath of the hurricane or perhaps what they're going to do in light of Tropical Storm or Tropical Depression Florence, I think using social media to speak about the death toll and debating that, perhaps from a messaging standpoint is not where he wants to be," Newall, research director at Ipsos Public Affairs, told Hill.TV's Joe Concha on "What America's Thinking." 

Trump stirred controversy last week after he accused Democrats, without evidence, of inflating the death count from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. 

The president in a tweet disputed an independent report commissioned by Puerto Rico's government that raised the death toll from Hurricane Maria to 2,975.

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths," Trump tweeted. "As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000."

"This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!" he continued. 

The Trump administration is in the process of dealing with Florence has the storm continues to bring flooding to North Carolina. 

— Julia Manchester