The White House on Monday tried to beat back criticism of President Joe Biden in the aftermath of his "no comment" regarding the wildfires in Maui that have left 96 dead, to this point.
The president is "deeply concerned," the White House assured.
A vacationing Biden invited the criticism with his responses to questions about the rising death toll from reporters on Sunday. He also gave an obtuse "we're looking at it" when asked about the worst natural disaster in Hawaii's history. It left many thinking the president couldn't be bothered amid his relaxing day in Rehoboth, Delaware.
"One of the most beautiful places on earth has been reduced to cinders. In Delaware: @JoeBiden can't be bothered to care. Putting America First means getting this joker out of the White House," Republican Kari Lake posted to X on Sunday.
The White House tried to assure reporters Monday that that wasn't the case.
"The [FEMA] administrator has been there for two whole days, two whole days on the ground by the president's request, to make sure that the government has what they have, the local government has what they have, the people of Maui have what they have," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. "When you talk about a dozen agencies on the ground, helping and assisting … hundreds of FEMA personnel. That's what — that's what matters."
Jean-Pierre said there are 300 FEMA personnel on the ground in Maui.
"You could expect to hear from the president on this issue, clearly it is something that is deeply concerning to him," she added. "You'll hear from the president on this … certainly, he's the president."
She wouldn't disclose when Biden might address the fires.
FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell joined the press briefing and said that a Biden visit at this point in time would disrupt their work on the ground. They want to keep attention on survivors, search-and-rescue efforts and those who are now homeless after the fires ravaged the island.
"At this point, we just want to make sure that we are working to help this community identify everybody that's missing, and we need to stay focused on that right now," Criswell said.
Biden was back in the White House on Monday.
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Mark Swanson, a Newsmax writer and editor, has nearly three decades of experience covering news, culture and politics.
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