A subdued President Trump said Tuesday he was inspired by the resilience he saw in response to Hurricane Harvey, offering for the first time condolences to those whose loved ones had died during the disaster.
Speaking at a manufacturing plant in Springfield, Mo., ahead of a speech about tax reform, Trump opened by addressing the unfolding crisis in the Gulf region, where more than two dozen have died and tens of thousands have been displaced by catastrophic flooding and torrential rains.
“To those Americans who have lost loved ones, all of America is grieving with you and our hearts are joined with yours forever,” Trump said, reading from a teleprompter.
“The citizens of Texas and the Gulf Coast need all the prayers, support and resources our communities have to offer,” he continued. “Recovery will be tough, but I have seen the resilience of the American spirit firsthand all over this country. To the people of Houston and across Texas and Louisiana, we are here with you today. We are with you tomorrow. And we will be with you every single day after to restore, recover and rebuild.”
The president praised the first responders, who he said are “doing absolutely heroic work to shepherd people out of harm's way.”
“Their courage and devotion has saved countless lives,” Trump said. “They represent truly the very best of America. We must be vigilant. We must protect the lives of our people.”
“In difficult times such as these, we see the true character of the American people, their strength, their love and their resolve,” he added. “We see friend helping friend, neighbor helping neighbor, and stranger helping stranger. And together, we will endure and we will overcome.”
Trump stopped in two Texas cities on Tuesday to survey the damage and meet with government officials coordinating the federal response.
While that effort has been the focus of Trump’s attention this week and figures to remain a priority for months or years, the Wednesday speech kicks off a concerted push by the White House to achieve tax reform.