Ari Fleischer: ‘Empathy’ for Harvey victims missing from Trump remarks

Former White House press secretary Ari Fleicher said empathy for those suffering was missing from President Trump’s remarks Tuesday as he visited areas of Texas ravaged by Hurricane Harvey.

“I was with President Bush when he went to see the devastation caused by fires in Missouri and Arizona and tornadoes in Missouri,” Fleischer recalled on Fox’s “America’s News Headquarters.” “There was something missing from what President Trump said, that’s the empathy for the people who suffer.

“In my opinion, that should’ve been the first thing he said, that his heart goes out to those people in Houston who are going through this and that the government is here to help them recover from this,” the recently-signed Fox News contributor continued.


“Secondly the job of the president is to thank those who are the first responders doing all the rescuing. That is a huge morale boost to those working so far away from their families. Their homes are often flooded, but they are sacrificing themselves to stay others in the president needs to thank them,” Fleischer added.

“That’s what a presidential visit can accomplish, I hope President Trump will return to that in some other public setting later today.”

The president and first lady visited Corpus Christi, Texas, on Tuesday to survey damage from Harvey, which made landfall on Friday as a Category 4 hurricane before being downgraded to a tropical storm. Harvey has lingered over southeast Texas and Louisiana, breaking tropical storm rainfall records and causing damaging floods.

Trump at one point praised the size of a crowd which gathered to see him after a meeting at a fire station.

“What a crowd, what a turnout,” Trump said to a gathering of several hundred people, according to a White House pool report.

“Thank you,” Trump said to cheers.

The president also sought to reassure the crowd of efforts to help the region recover.

“We love you, you are special, we are here to take care of you,” Trump said. “It’s going well.”

Trump also thanked Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and the state’s senators, Ted Cruz (R) and John Cornyn (R).

“This has been a total collaborative effort,” Trump said. 

“It’s historic, it’s epic, but I tell you it happened in Texas, and Texas can handle anything.”

Trump later flew to Austin, Texas, to be briefed by state officials on the recovery.