Politics

Senate Hopeful Rick Scott Breaks With Trump Over Puerto Rico Deaths

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson calls president’s claim ‘shameful‘

Florida Gov. Rick Scott broke with President Trump about the death toll in Puerto Rico after two 2017 hurricanes. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott, who is trying to take Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson’s seat, broke with President Donald Trump on Thursday, saying he sees no reason to doubt nearly 3,000 people died following hurricanes in Puerto Rico last year.

During a morning Twitter rant, the president accused Puerto Rican officials and Democrats of lying about how many people died there after Hurricanes Maria and Irma pummeled the island in a coordinated effort to make him look bad.

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He accused Democrats and Puerto Rican officials of driving up the death toll by adding deaths due to “any reason, like old age,” contending “they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths” when he left after a post-storms visit. “3000 people did not die,” he wrote.

“I disagree with @POTUS– an independent study said thousands were lost,” Scott tweeted later Thursday. “The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching. I'll continue to help PR”.

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Scott followed Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., who earlier in the day also said he trusts the official death toll figures. Trump has praised Scott in the past; so far, he has not responded to the governor’s tweet.

Nelson also weighed in, calling Trump’s contention “shameful.”

“We deserve and expect more,” he tweeted, “from someone who holds the highest office in our country.”

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