Heavily armed Secret Service officers accompanied Donald Trump on his visit to Baton Rouge today. Wielding automatic weapons and wearing helmets and body armor, two agents deplaned just in advance of Trump at the Baton Rouge airport. Trump has been subjected to several death threats and at least one assassination attempt.

Looking very presidential, Trump was in Louisiana to see the devastation wrought by days of torrential rain that has destroyed tens of thousands of home and put thousands of families in the street. His visit comes in contrast to both President Barack Obama and Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton, who have not visited the region since the flooding.

Obama is still vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, having taken in more than a dozen rounds of golf with celebrities such as comedian Larry David, as well as NFL athletes. According to reports, he was informed during a round of golf by the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency about the progress of relief efforts. NBC reporter

Micah Grimes tweeted as Trump stepped off his private plane, “These guys stepped off the Trump plane in Baton Rouge ahead of Trump and co.” TIME magazine reporter Zeke Miller noted, “In case you were wondering, those heavily armed guys on CNN are USSS counterassault team (CAT) team agents, who protect POTUS and nominees.” Visiting Louisiana with Trump is running mate Gov. Mike Pence.

In remarks he made in North Carolina yesterday, Trump said that the United States is “one nation,” and that “when one state hurts, we all hurt.” He offered condolences to those who had lost loved ones. “Our prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones, and we send them our deepest condolences,” Trump said. “Though words cannot express the sadness one feels at times like this, I hope everyone in Louisiana knows that our country is praying for them and standing with them to help them in these difficult hours.”

Lousiana’s Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards publicly asked President Obama to stay away from Louisiana, citing the drain on state resources that a presidential visit means, while officials are coping with a disaster that is rivaled only by Hurricane Sandy of 2008. Sandy arrived fortuitously just before the November 2008 presidential election. Obama’s tour of New Jersey with Gov. Chris Christie in tow is widely credited with putting him over the top in the election.

Edwards has declared a state of emergency.

The Trump campaign is keeping a relatively low profile during the visit. Trump’s campaign has released no details, and Gov. Edwards said that he had not been contacted by the campaign in advance. "We welcome him to [Louisiana] but not for a photo-op," a spokesman said in a statement. The governor's office asked that Trump donate to flood relief instead of a visit.

At the Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, Trump said, "The president says he doesn’t want to come, he is trying to get out of a golf game." At the church, which is located north of Baton Rouge, Tony Perkins – a Trump supporter who leads the Family Research Council – was equally critical. “I heard he wants to stay under par while we are under water." Trump and Mike Pence have been meeting with local officials and touring the flood damage.

Pence arrived before Trump, accompanied by his wife Karen and daughter Charlotte.

Trump was greeted on the airport tarmac by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, Commissioner Eric Skrmetta, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Rep. Garret Graves. The flooding in Louisiana has killed at least 13 people and displaced thousands from their homes.

"If the president can interrupt his vacation for a swanky fundraiser for fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton, as he did on Monday, then surely he can make time to show up for a catastrophe that’s displaced thousands." So said an op-ed by the editorial board of The Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge yesterday. "The optics of Obama golfing while Louisiana residents languished in flood waters was striking," the editorial board said. "It evoked the precedent of the passive federal response to the state’s agony in 2005, a chapter of history no one should ever repeat."
 
Hillary Clinton has tweeted that she is "closely monitoring" the calamity, but has not announced any plans for a visit.

Eleven years ago, Senator Barack Obama spoke from the well of the Senate to say that President George W. Bush was morally culpable for a supposed failure to aid the victims of devastating Hurricane Katrina. Having just returned from New Orleans in 2005 after the storm, Obama preached "I can say from personal experience how frustrating, how unconscionable it is, that it has been so difficult to get medical supplies to those in need quickly enough." He continued, “Indeed, if there's any bright light that has come out of this disaster, it's the degree to which ordinary Americans have responded with speed and determination even as their government has responded with unconscionable ineptitude."

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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