Former President Donald Trump spent Wednesday in East Palestine the site of the Feb. 3 train derailment and fire. Trump went on a tour of Little Beaver Creek from the Mayor of East Palestine who has been critical of the Biden Administration’s handling of the aftermath of the incident and Senator JD Vance (R-OH). Along North Market Street, hundreds waited in the rain for a glimpse of the former president as he made his way to the East Palestine Fire Department where he donated water and cleaning supplies.
“I sincerely hope that when your representatives and all of the politicians get here including Biden, (when) they get back from touring Ukraine, that he’s got some money left over,” Trump said criticizing the country’s spending in support of Ukraine.
In town, residents like Lindsay Johnson noted the political split that has developed over the last week or two.
“I think it didn’t have to be but we’re really not getting any help from the administration that’s in power right now," she said.
Yes, a lot of that has to do with the perception of how the Biden Administration is handling the situation. That’s in part what brought Trump to town. The visit is something that resonates with voters like Darla McElroy. “All politics aside, he’s here and nobody else has shown up yet,” she said.
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg will be visiting East Palestine Thursday. He said this week he wanted to wait until a time when he wasn’t a distraction from the work taking place. Saying there are two types of people who show up at disasters.
“People who are there because they have a specific job to do and are there to get something done and people who are there to look good and have their picture taken,” Buttigieg said. “When I go it will be about action on rail safety.”
Columbiana County is a solid Republican county, Donald Trump got 71% of the vote here in 2020, Governor DeWine got 79% last year. So this visit is not about winning over new voters but it is about energizing that base here and in similar counties across the state with just over a year to go to the March 19, 2023 Ohio Republican presidential primary.
Around town, you needn’t look hard to find Trump 2024 signs along with voters like Kathy who drove from Alliance in hopes of seeing the man who she said has her vote no matter who gets in.
Brian Heestand came from nearby Salem to see the former President but he said he would also like to see the current one and see each put East Palestine first.
“I think together is how we’re always going to get things together, get things done and I do believe that to be true,” he said.