POLITICS

Trump tours La. flood damage, draws cheers as he says region will rebuild

Chief political correspondent Carl Cameron reports from Dimondale, Michigan

 

Donald Trump landed Friday in flood-ravaged Louisiana Friday, where he consoled homeowners and toured devastated communities, telling one homeowner he is "going to rebuild."

The Republican presidential nominee, with running mate Mike Pence at his side, stopped at the home of Jimmy and Olive Gordan in Denham Springs, where the couple was still sweeping out floodwaters from their home. A ruined couch, chair and bedroom furniture were piled on their lawn, and Jimmy Gordan told Trump he spent his 79th birthday on the roof of his house.

"I just don't know what we'll do," the man told Trump.

"You're going to rebuild,” Trump told him as the two hugged. “It's going to be so beautiful."

Trump and Pence received a warm reception as they toured a heavily-damaged portion of East Baton Rouge Parish. A crowd of supporters near a local Baptist church where volunteers have gathered to feed flood victims cheered the pair.

"Thank you for coming, Mr. Trump," one woman screamed.

"We knew you would be here for us!" another shouted.

The candidate also met with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. Perkins own home was flooded. The prominent Christian conservative says he wants Trump to "let the country know" about the extent of the damage.

Many Louisianans feel the flooding has been ignored by the national news.

Neither President Obama nor Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton have visited the state since historic rains flooded rivers and creeks, killing 13, wrecking 40,000 homes and affecting more than 100,000 residents.

However, late Friday the White House announced Obama would visit Baton Rouge on Tuesday.

Clinton called Gov. John Bel Edwards to discuss the relief effort, and posted on Facebook that her "heart breaks for Louisiana."

But Clinton said visiting the state amid the damage and ongoing relief effort would be a "distraction."

Edwards, a Democrat, said ahead of Trump's visit that Trump is welcome, "but not for a photo-op." Edwards spokesman Richard Carbo said in a statement that "we hope he'll consider volunteering or making a sizable donation to the LA Flood Relief Fund to help the victims of this storm. "

Despite mounting pressure, the White House said Obama was unlikely to break from a New England vacation to survey the damage in Louisiana. In an editorial published Wednesday, The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge called on Obama to visit "the most anguished state in the union."

Trump, sporting his trademark “Make America Great Again” cap, landed Friday morning at the Baton Rouge airport and was met on the tarmac by Republicans Rep. Steve Scalise, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and Attorney General Jeff Landry.

The Associated Press contributed to this report