While President Trump has been criticized for not visiting victims of Hurricane Harvey when he travelled to Texas this week, Energy Secretary Rick Perry says he was the one who suggested to Trump that he "not go down range."
Perry was in southeastern Texas on Thursday, accompanying Vice President Mike Pence, to survey the damage caused by the storm and meet people impacted by it. Asked in Corpus Christi whether Pence's visit overshadowed Trump's, Pence said it did not and explained why Trump chose not to meet with victims, even though it was the president's initial inclination to do so.
"No, I recommended to the president that he not go down range ... but he came, for obvious reasons," Perry said, according to a press pool report.
Trump has been roundly ostracized on social media in the media for not visiting the victims themselves, while also making comparisons to former President Barack Obama, who did visit with people impacted by Superstorm Sandy. In particular, he did not visit Houston, which has been devasted by flooding, reportedly over concerns that it might impede any rescue efforts.
Trump did meet with state officials and took the time to address a supportive gathering of people, where he remarked about the crowd size. He also said he wants Texas to set the standard for disaster relief efforts, exclaiming, "This is the way to do it."
Perry, the former governor of Texas, went on to defend Trump's actions before noting that Trump would be returning to Texas on Saturday, including tentatively the Houston area.
"There's a time gap here. I have dealt with some disasters in my past. The president went to the right place at the right time," he said.
Perry claimed that Trump wanted to visit Texas earlier, as Hurricane Harvey, as a Category 4 storm, made landfall back on Friday, and has since devastated the region with widespread flooding.
"The president wanted to go early, he wanted to go Monday," Perry explained, adding that Trump "wanted to be where there were citizens being affected."
However, Trump "was advised: the better place for you to go is Corpus Christi or San Antonio or Austin, where no search and rescue resources would be pulled away from what they're doing. That's always been good advice."
Perry asserted that Trump "went to the right place."
"He literally and figuratively waved the flag," Perry said, referring the Texas state flag. "The American citizens and Texans know he cares, he's paying attention."