President Trump praises rapid response to Irma in Florida

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump met with federal and state leaders in Florida today as he surveyed damage from Hurricane Irma and praised the rapid response of the recovery effort.

"We have been very, very fast and we had to be," Trump said at an airport hangar where he was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, Gov. Rick Scott and other leaders.

The president said his administration is "trying to keep them as happy as we can under the circumstances. In many cases, they've lost their homes and it's a tough situation."

Trump quickly injected politics into the visit, telling reporters he was hopeful that Scott, a two-term GOP governor, will challenge a Democratic senator next year.

"I don't know what he's going to do. But I know at a certain point it ends for you and we can't let it end. So I hope he runs for the Senate" against incumbent Bill Nelson, Trump said.

For Trump, the visit to Fort Myers and Naples along Florida's battered southwestern coast offered him the chance to see how people were coping and how the Federal Emergency Management Agency was responding.

But as his comments about Scott suggested, politics was not far from the surface in Florida, which has been the largest and most pivotal state in recent presidential elections. Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in Florida last year by about 1 percentage point.

"We're with you today. We're going to be with you tomorrow and we're going to be with you until Florida rebuilds bigger and better than ever before," Pence said.

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