Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Maj. Gen. Scott Spellmon, President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. Greg Steube at Lake Okeechobee on Friday. (Photo: AP)
March 31, 2019 by David Silverberg
As predicted by The Paradise Progressive last week (Analysis: Follow the money when Trump comes to Lake O), when President Donald Trump visited Lake Okeechobee on Friday, March 29, he came, he saw, he boasted—but real results were sparse.
The Paradise Progressive: If he behaves as he has in the past, his visit will be a narcissistic exercise in self-praise…
Donald Trump: “This project was dying until we got involved,” he said. He also called Everglades restoration “very, very important. It was very dangerous and it’s a big project. But it’s a great project for Florida. And Florida is a state that’s a phenomenal state. A very important project.” Exactly in what way Everglades restoration is “very dangerous” remained unexplained.
The Paradise Progressive: …a vicious vilification of enemies real and perceived…
Donald Trump: “They set up these caravans. In many cases, they put their worst people in the caravan; they’re not going to put their best in. They get rid of their problems. And they march up here, and then they’re coming into their country; we’re not letting them in our country.”
The Paradise Progressive: …and digressions into irrelevant or peripheral topics.
Donald Trump: “I want to just thank the Army Corps of Engineers, who’s been fantastic. I said, ‘Let’s go. We need a wall also on the border.’ You know that, right? I’m looking at all these walls; I’m saying, ‘Southern border, too. Don’t forget our southern border.’ And we’re right now building a lot of wall in the southern border.”
As for the topic at hand, funding Everglades restoration projects and repairs to the Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee, when asked by a reporter about providing more money than currently in his proposed budget, Trump responded: “We’re going to be doing more. We’re going to be doing more.”
To which the reporter responded, quite correctly: “When? How much?”
To which Trump replied: “Soon. A lot. More than you would ever believe.”
This prompted the next day’s headline in the Naples Daily News: “Trump makes vague Everglades promise.”
As also predicted, Trump’s visit was an opportunity for Florida officials—all Republicans—to lobby him for more Everglades money, which they did while lavishly thanking and praising him. These officials included Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio and Reps. Greg Steube (District 17), Brian Mast (District 18), Francis Rooney (District 19) and Mario Diaz-Balart (District 25).
This was a stark contrast to the event on March 14 when Rubio, Scott, Rooney and Mast sent a formal letter to the White House complaining that the latest proposed budget underfunded Everglades projects and failed to meet previous federal promises.
At Lake Okeechobee on Friday, Rubio in particular tried to cajole Trump along. “You have a chance, Mr. President, and your administration, to go down in history as the Everglades President — as the person who helped save and restore the Everglades,” he said.
To which Trump replied: “We have a chance to go down as many things.”