Former President Donald Trump visited East Palestine, Ohio, on Wednesday, 2 weeks after a train derailed there carrying toxic chemicals that were then set on fire during a controlled burn that led to an explosion that has now left residents with contaminated water that is unsafe to drink, toxic soil, and air that is now full of irritants. It should be noted that neither President Joe Biden nor Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, have visited East Palestine or its struggling residents.
"We're like a third-world nation, and this is an example of it, the breakdown. Our whole country is breaking down," Trump told residents while spending time with them in a McDonald's on Wednesday.
Trump was also quick to point out that Buttigieg "should have been here a long time ago." The Transportation Secretary has been making excuses for the derailment and handling of the aftermath rather than visiting the locals or overseeing the massive cleanup efforts now being instituted by the train operator, Norfolk Southern.
Buttigieg has gone so far as to blame Trump for the derailment claiming that a proposed rule on ECP brakes that was withdrawn under Trump in 2018 somehow had to do with the derailment and the following catastrophe in East Palestine. When asked about those accusations, Trump said, "It had nothing to do with it."
Trump also suggested that Buttigieg do his job and look into the delays and technology meltdowns that are causing massive disruptions in air service, saying, "look at the airports, because I have people that are taking planes, and they're delayed. They're waiting in an airport for three days. It's crazy what's happening."
After attempting to minimize the derailment and disaster last week, the Transportation Secretary will finally visit East Palestine on Thursday, a day after the former president.
Last week Buttigieg was writing off the derailment in the Ohio town as just another figure when he said, "While this horrible situation has gotten a particularly high amount of attention, there are roughly 1,000 cases a year of a train derailing."
Buttigieg isn't the only top government official avoiding East Palestine. Joe Biden went all the way to Ukraine last week to discuss a conflict that initially did not involve the U.S. instead of flying a few hours to a struggling blue-collar town in desperate need of support, assistance, and acknowledgment.
Regarding Biden's trip to Kyiv, Trump noted that the President should have already visited East Palestine, but "chose to go a different route."
It is currently unknown if, or when, Biden plans to visit Ohio.
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