Trump to survey Tennessee tornado damage

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Benji Peck, Austin Grove

Benji Peck, left, and Austin Grove remove a refrigerator from a damaged home Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Residents and businesses face a huge cleanup effort after tornadoes hit the state Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will again assume the role of national consoler Friday on a tour of Tennessee neighborhoods where lives and homes were destroyed by tornadoes that swept through parts of the state earlier this week.

A twister early Tuesday cut a 2-mile-long (3.2-kilometer-long) path through Putnam County. Eighteen people were killed, including five children under 13. Many more people were injured, some critically.

Statewide, the death toll stood at 24 from a pair of storms.

As is customary with trips of this nature, the White House did not release details about the president’s Tennessee stops before he left Washington.

Trump was to be joined by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn and other top officials during the visit.

Such trips have become familiar for the president, who has visited numerous scenes of disaster and tragedy after hurricanes, mass shootings and wildfires during the past three years.

Trump said the Tennessee tornadoes were “horrible” and “vicious.”

“Our hearts are full of sorrow for the lives that were lost,” he told a meeting of county officials from across the U.S. earlier this week. “Those tornadoes — I’ve seen many of them during a three-year period, and I’ve gotten to see the results. And they are vicious if you’re in their path.”

The Republican president won the heavily GOP state by 26 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election, and trounced Democrat Hillary Clinton in Putnam County by a margin of more than 2-to-1. Davidson County, the other Tennessee region devastated by tornadoes, is a Democratic enclave in the reliably Republican red state.

Trump was ending the day at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, attending a pair of fundraising events to benefit the Republican Party and his reelection campaign.


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