President Biden was sharply criticized on Sunday after telling reporters during a Delaware beach getaway that he had “no comment” on the rising death toll in Hawaii from severe wildfires.
“After a couple hours on the Rehoboth beach, @potus was asked about the rising death toll in Hawaii,” Bloomberg’s Justin Sink posted to X, formerly known as Twitter. He said that the president responded with “no comment” before he went home. Video later confirmed his account, showing as Biden paused briefly before responding and getting into his transportation.
Critics responded to Sink’s post and hammered the president’s response, saying it was “embarrassing.”
MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan, who frequently defends the White House, said Biden’s reported response would “hurt him” and called it “unforced errors.”
President Biden walks to Marine One at the White House on Aug. 11, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Another journalist, Yashar Ali, said Biden’s response was “absolutely terrible.”
“It seems like the president should have something to say about that,” the Washington Examiner’s Byron York wrote.
“It’s good to be a Democrat,” another response said.
“The famous Biden empathy,” CNN political commentator Scott Jennings said in response to Sink’s post.
The deadly wildfires have killed nearly 100 people in Maui and the toll is expected to grow as crews continue to search through the ruins.
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green, left, and Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen Jr. speak during a tour of wildfire damage on Aug. 12, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
In response to a request for comment, the White House pointed to positive comments from Hawaii Gov. Josh Green about the federal government’s response on Sunday, who told MSNBC that he was “honored to have the president jump to it so fast.”
“President Biden has mobilized and led a whole-of-government response to the wildfires in Hawaii from the beginning, working closely on it and receiving detailed briefings every day since,” a spokesperson told Fox News Digital in a statement. “Yesterday he received two updates from FEMA Administrator Criswell while she was on the ground. As Governor Green stressed yesterday, within six hours of receiving Hawaii’s request, President Biden signed a Major Disaster Declaration and ordered all available federal resources in the state to help with the response. Governor Green described this as having provided ‘amazing support for recovery.’ Senator Hirono also thanked President Biden for the immediate support federal agencies have delivered for the residents of Hawaii, as has Senator Schatz. Like President Biden said on Thursday, ‘I’ve directed that we surge support to these brave firefighters and first responders and emergency personnel working around the clock […] I’m going to make sure the state has everything it needs from the federal government to recover.'”
White House officials also said Sunday that Biden was briefed by FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell on the situation in Maui. The president posted an update late Monday morning.
“As residents of Hawai’i mourn the loss of life and devastation taking place across their beautiful home, we mourn with them. Like I’ve said, not only our prayers are with those impacted – but every asset we have will be available to them,” he wrote.
Democrat Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono praised the president Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
President Biden speaks during an event in the East Room of the White House on July 25, 2023. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“I really thank the president for declaring an emergency declaration within hours of being asked to do that by the state of Hawaii. And I was there with the family of federal agencies, including administrator[s] of FEMA, SBA, U.S. Fire,” she said.
A Maui resident told CNN on Friday that he wasn’t getting the support he needed.
“I’m not getting what I need from the government,” Maui resident Cole Millington said.
“We need support on the federal level,” he continued. “We should have the Navy here. We should have the Coast Guard here. We should have helicopters here. It shouldn’t be me and my friends in our 20, 30-year-old trucks grabbing supplies and driving them through a burning town to get there.”
Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report. This article was updated with posts from the official POTUS X account.
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Hanna Panreck is an associate editor at Fox News.