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Donald Trump

Double gaffe: Trump met ‘president’ of US Virgin Islands day after Rick Perry called Puerto Rico a ‘country’

The Virgin Islands don’t have a president; they have a governor, Kenneth Mapp, with whom Trump met 10 days ago

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 October, 2017, 5:34pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 October, 2017, 9:43pm

US President Donald Trump has spoken about another US territory struck by hurricanes as if it’s a foreign country.

He said in a speech at the Values Voters Summit on Friday that he met with the “president” of the US Virgin Islands.

“I will tell you I left Texas and I left Florida and I left Louisiana and I went to Puerto Rico and I met with the President of the Virgin Islands,” he said.

“We are one nation and we all hurt together, we hope together and we heal together,” he said, later adding, “The Virgin Islands and the President of the Virgin Islands, these are people that are incredible people, they suffered gravely and we’re be there, we’re going to be there, we have really, it is not even a question of a choice.”

The Virgin Islands don’t have a president; they have a governor, Kenneth Mapp, with whom Trump met 10 days ago.

In fact, their president is none other than Trump himself, since they are Americans.

Trump’s flub comes a day after US Energy Secretary Rick Perry made a similar error on Puerto Rico.

A new poll shows that 55 per cent of Americans think the Trump administration hasn’t done enough to help Puerto Rico, and that 52 per cent believe Trump doesn’t even care about the US territory’s problems after Hurricane Maria.

His energy secretary’s latest gaffe isn’t going to help in that regard.

During a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing Thursday, Perry mistakenly referred to Puerto Rico as a country while talking about how to repair its energy grid.

Here’s the exchange with Democrat lawmaker Kathy Castor.:

Castor: “What is your plan to build a more distributed grid there with the modern technology that’s at our fingertips?”

Perry: “Congresswoman Castor, you have just pointed out the real challenge that this country faces in dealing with the territory and the citizens of Puerto Rico. That is a country that already had its challenges before this storm.”

Castor: “Well, they’re – it’s America. They’re American citizens, so it’s not a country. But could you just detail, since the time is limited.”

Perry: “Yeah, that’s the reason I called it a territory, ma’am. I apologise for misstating here and calling it a country.”

Perry, immediately before his flub, did call Puerto Rico a territory. So it was clearly a momentary slip of the tongue rather than his not knowing the difference.

Perry, of course, can’t seem to escape such flubs, most notably forgetting during his 2012 presidential campaign the name of the third US government department that he wanted eliminated. He punctuated that painful debate performance with the “oops” heard round the world.

But at a time when Trump is flirting with pulling aid out of Puerto Rico, and some in the United States and the territory think the federal government just doesn’t get it or care, calling Puerto Rico a country won’t provide any reassurances.