WASHINGTON — President Biden flew to Kentucky on Wednesday morning to survey the damage wrought by a series of deadly tornadoes last weekend, reprising a role comforting disaster victims that has become a staple of his presidency.
The tornadoes ripped through a 200-mile swath of the state, killing scores of people and leaving more than 1,000 families homeless or with severe damage to repair. Mr. Biden will tour some of the hardest-hit areas on his trip.
In the late morning, he will take an aerial tour of Mayfield, Ky., which was devastated by the storms, and then inspect it on the ground, where he will be briefed by local officials and visit a neighborhood.
In the afternoon he will tour a neighborhood in Dawson Springs, Ky., a small town that is the birthplace of the father of Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky, a Democrat who will join the president on his trip. Mr. Biden will then give remarks on his administration’s response to the storms.
The president has already made several similar trips since taking office in January. He has visited with victims of hurricanes and extreme storms on the Gulf Coast and in the New York area, and with victims of wildfires in the West.
In each case, Mr. Biden has tried to reassure residents that the federal government was working hard to speed recovery efforts, while also offering personal comfort to people who have suffered extreme damage from the disasters.
In Kentucky, Mr. Biden “will be surveying the storm damage firsthand, making sure that we’re doing everything to deliver assistance as quickly as possible to impacted areas to support recovery efforts,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Tuesday.
“I can tell you from traveling on some of these trips with the president in the past,” she said, “often what happens is he will ask leaders directly, ‘What do you need? What are you not getting? And how can we make it faster for you?’ And then he will get back in the car and he will give an assignment to a staffer and say, ‘Get this done.’”
The region hit by the storms voted largely for Mr. Biden’s opponent, former President Donald J. Trump, in the 2020 election. A reporter asked Ms. Psaki on Tuesday if Mr. Biden had prepared specifically for his visit to the conservative area.
“I think the president looks at people through the tragedy they’re experiencing — the heartache they’re feeling at the loss of life, the loss of their homes; questions many people are raising, I know, about whether they can build back from this — this storm that’s impacted their communities,” she said. “He looks at them as human beings, not as people who have partisan affiliations.”
Ms. Psaki said this week that Mr. Biden had invited the entire Kentucky congressional delegation, which is heavily Republican, to accompany him on the trip. White House officials listed only one member of that group on the official manifest for the flight to the state: Representative James Comer Jr., a Republican whose district includes Mayfield.
Source: NYT > U.S. > Politics