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.
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”.
I disagree with @POTUS– an independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. Rosselló agreed. I've been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand. 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— Rick Scott (@ScottforFlorida) September 13, 2018
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.”
The president’s comments on the nearly 3,000 American lives lost in Puerto Rico are shameful. We deserve and expect more from someone who holds the highest office in our country.— Senator Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) September 13, 2018