On Thursday night, Ed Rollins, a longtime Republican consultant, appeared on Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight program and strongly defended President Donald Trump’s denial of the official death count (2,975 dead) from 2017’s Hurricane Maria. The episode is the latest installment in an ongoing, very public, spat after President Trump reacted with outrage and disbelief to critics pointing out the death toll from Hurricane Maria, which he had been extolling earlier this week (in the context of Hurricane Florence preparations) as a major success in crisis management.
Along with host Lou Dobbs, Rollins tried to contest the official death count by suggesting that since it’s an estimate, it shouldn’t be treated seriously. Rollins also criticized Florida Republicans such as Governor Rick Scott and Congressman Ron DeSantis, both of whom openly disagreed with the president’s denial.
“The reality is the Democrats are playing to Puerto Ricans who have moved to this country, moved to Florida, politics, and they’re not for us anyways,” Rollins said. “So, at the end of the day here, the president is accurate.”
It’s not clear what to make of Rollins’ words. It’s not true that Puerto Ricans have “moved to this country,” since Puerto Rico is part of the United States. Nor is it clear why the fact that these Puerto Ricans might not be Republicans has to do with evaluating the death count from the hurricane.