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CNN Panel Clashes Over Trump’s Hurricane Rhetoric for Florida vs. Puerto Rico: ‘Kind of Obvious’ It’s About ‘Electoral Votes’

CNN panelists Maria Cardona and Scott Jennings clashed over the reasons behind President Donald Trump’s markedly different comments about Hurricane Dorian threatening the US territory of Puerto Rico versus the state of Florida.

The pair faced off in a segment on Out Front, after guest host Jim Sciutto contrasted Trump’s complaints about Puerto Rico being “one of the most corrupt places on Earth” and insulted the Democratic mayor of its capital, Carmen Yulin Cruz as “incompetent”and “horrible” versus the praise he lavished on Florida’s “great governor” Ron DeSantis, a Republican who the president said on Thursday was “doing an incredible job.”

“You look at the different tone from the president,” Sciutto pointed out. “What’s behind it?

Cardona pointed directly to partisanship and race as driving Trump’s vastly different tone. “It shouldn’t surprise us,” she said. “The hurricane is now headed to Florida which is as you mentioned, it has nine Trump properties. It also has 29 electoral votes versus Puerto Rico, where there are certainly three million American citizens which I think this president forgets conveniently. But they’re Hispanic. They speak Spanish. And clearly zero electoral votes. And clearly I think there is not a coincidence in terms of the difference that this president has treated the American citizens living in Puerto Rico since two years ago with Hurricane Maria and then now when he blamed the island for being in the path of the hurricane in the first place versus how he is treating Florida.”

For his part, Jennings pushed back hard on the idea that Trump was treating the two parts of American differently because of politics or race.

“To argue the president of the United States only cares about Florida because it is a state that has electoral votes or to argue that he doesn’t care about Puerto Rico because it has people who are Hispanic when a quarter to 30% of Florida is also Hispanic I think only the most mindless partisan would argue that,” he said. “It’s a hurricane, it is an emergency situation. Florida gets hit with hurricanes all the time. And so if your argument is the president should turn a blind eye towards this, I don’t even know what to say to that.”

That is not the argument, Sciutto noted.

“It’s hyper-partisanship at its worst as at the worse time, I think it’s terrible,” Jennings interjected.

“What is the difference between Florida and Puerto Rico or, frankly, between Puerto Rico and Florida and Texas?” Cardona shot back. “It’s kind of obvious.”

“What is the difference, Scott?” she continued. “The difference is that Puerto Rico — most of the people there speak Spanish have brown skin are Hispanic and zero electoral votes. I’m sorry, those are the facts. If there is any other reason you can think of as to why the president treats the three million American citizens in Puerto Rico differently, and don’t tell me it’s because of the corruption from the leaders.”

“That has nothing to do with the fact that this president should act in a humane way towards all American citizens,” Cardona added, “and he has been unable and uninterested in doing that.”

Watch the video above, via CNN.

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