Only one current or former president has paid a visit to visit East Palestine, Ohio — the site of a train derailment on Feb. 3 that led to the release of a cloud of toxic gas over the town.
Here’s a hint: It wasn’t Joe Biden.
Instead, it was former President Donald Trump, currently campaigning to get his old job back. After flying in to visit the town on Wednesday, Trump had a three-word message for Biden, who’d been busy making headlines with a visit to Europe:
“Get over here.”
“In too many cases, your goodness and perseverance were met with indifference and betrayal,” Trump told East Palestine residents said in remarks at a firehouse a half-mile from where the wreck happened, according to The Associated Press.
Trump was appearing with GOP Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio and East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway, among other state and local leaders.
He added that the residents of the town need “answers and results” as opposed to excuses.
However, his pointed message to the current president came as he was asked if he had a message for Biden personally.
“Get over here,” Trump responded.
“Get over here.”
— Donald Trump’s message to President Biden during his visit to East Palestine, Ohio after the train derailment disaster pic.twitter.com/eRiWy9vurW
— The Recount (@therecount) February 22, 2023
Other videos showed the former president receiving a warm welcome from residents.
In one clip posted by former White House aide Dan Scavino, an individual could be heard telling Trump, “Thank you for not forgetting about us.”
2/22/23 | OHIO… pic.twitter.com/iF5xWDUfEd
— Dan Scavino Jr. (@DanScavino) February 22, 2023
In another, a “Trump, Trump, Trump!” chant could be heard.
— Israel75 (@IFNY2775) February 22, 2023
During the visit, Trump also drew a contrast between what he would have done were he president and what the Biden administration was doing.
For starters, he told reporters, “FEMA would have been here a long time ago.”
I asked Trump what he would have done for East Palestine if he were in office:
“FEMA would have been here a long time ago” pic.twitter.com/7T1QJIClhm
— Savanah Hernandez (@sav_says_) February 22, 2023
According to the New York Post, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was only sent out to the site two weeks after the derailment of the Norfolk Southern train and the subsequent release of vinyl chloride and other hazardous gases.
The Biden administration had contended that FEMA wasn’t the appropriate management agency, since no residential structures had been physically damaged by the derailment.
“FEMA is on the frontlines when there is a hurricane or tornado,” an administration official said. “This situation is different.”
Instead, the administration contended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services were the appropriate agencies to deal with the disaster.
During his remarks, Trump also struck a blow at Biden for making a heavily promoted visit to Ukraine without ever bothering to visit East Palestine.
Trump, speaking in East Palestine, Ohio:
“I sincerely hope that when your representatives and all of the politicians get here, including Biden, they get back from touring Ukraine, that he’s got some money left over.” pic.twitter.com/kdruLxDvnq
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) February 22, 2023
“I sincerely hope that when your representatives and all of the politicians get here, including Biden, to get back from touring Ukraine, that he’s got some money left over,” Trump said during his remarks.
At the time of his visit to Kyiv earlier this week, Biden had yet to announce plans to visit East Palestine — a sign that he might not be willing to “get over there” anytime soon.
It’s worth noting that Ohio has 17 electoral votes and a senatorial election coming up in 2024. East Palestine is also right on the border with Pennsylvania — a state with 19 electoral votes and its own 2024 senatorial race. In other words, that decision could end up costing Biden — and his Democratic Party — very dearly in another year and a half’s time when Americans go to the polls again.