Biden Says He Will Go To Maui ‘As Soon’ As He Can, Doesn’t Want To ‘Disrupt’ Recovery Efforts

Screenshot/ YouTube/ The White House

Diana Glebova White House Correspondent
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President Joe Biden said Tuesday he and first lady Jill Biden are going to travel to Hawaii “as soon” as they can, but don’t want to “get in the way” of the current recovery efforts after the devastating wildfires on the island.

“My wife Jill and I are going to travel to Hawaii as soon as we can. That’s what I’ve been talking to the governor about. I don’t want to get in the way. I’ve been to too many disaster areas, but I want to go to make sure they have everything they need,” Biden said at the top of his remarks on “Bidenomics” in Wisconsin Tuesday.

Biden previously said the administration was “looking at” sending him to Maui. Biden made similar vows in March about visiting East Palestine, Ohio, after the toxic train derailment but has yet to visit the city.

The press questioned the White House on Biden staying relatively silent about Maui. He has not made a full speech about the wildfires, mouthed “no comment” about the death toll and has largely avoided taking questions from the press about Hawaii. Some Americans also took issue with the $700 per household the administration has pledged to send residents, pointing to how much Biden sent to Ukraine. (RELATED: Biden ‘Looking At‘ Visiting Maui While Planning Six-Day Mystery Trip To Nevada)

Biden began his Hawaii remarks by apologizing for having to talk about the tragedy.

“I apologize because I try very hard to keep my speeches between 15 and 18 minutes, but I gotta talk a little bit about Hawaii. I’ve been on the phone with the governor coming up here and the senators. And let me say, address the devastating wildfires, some of which are still burning in Hawaii, have claimed the lives of 99 people so far,” Biden said.

“Almost 500 federal personnel have been deployed to Maui to help communities and survivors get back on their feet. FEMA, search and rescue teams, are sifting through the ashes,” he added, noting he approved disaster declaration for Hawaii.

Vice President Kamala Harris has also stated she and Biden are hesitant to travel to Hawaii in fear of causing a distraction.

“We don’t want to distract from the resources that need to go into the victims of this tragedy, and of course, the needs of the first responders are to be able to focus on that issue and not worry about focusing on us [because] we’re there,” Harris said Friday.

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said Biden is giving her “space” by not visiting right away.

“I think right now our focus is on making sure that we are doing everything we can to account for everybody that has been unaccounted for. And the President has given me the space to make sure I’m bringing in all of the appropriate federal personnel and resources to do that. And so, we will continue to do that,” Criswell said.