Pete Buttigieg defends Biden for not visiting East Palestine after train disaster

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tours the site on 23 February

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg defended President Joe Biden not visiting East Palestine, Ohio, where a train carrying hazardous materials derailed last month.

Mr Buttigieg spoke to CNN on Tuesday, when host Don Lemon asked whether Mr Biden should visit East Palestine; Mr Buttigieg visted the area last week. Mr Buttigieg’s visit came after former president Donald Trump arrived in the town and pledged to donate cleaning supplies and water.

“What I know is he’s been very concerned throughout this process about what the people of East Palestine are going through,” Mr Buttigieg said. “I also think a visit to that level can have a lot of disruptive effects, so it would need to be thought of carefully. But I’m certainly glad that I went.”

Many Republicans have criticised Mr Biden for not visiting the site where a train carrying vinyl chloride, a hazadrous chemical, derailed. Some Republicans have also called for Mr Buttigieg’s resignation in response to the derailment and the fact it took him more than a week to make remarks about the situation.

Mr Buttigieg offered a similar response on Monday when asked on MSNBC whether Mr Biden would visit East Palestine.

“So on the first question, what I do know is that the president cares a lot about this issue,” he said. “He’s spoken repeatedly with me and other senior members of the administration about what can be done both to support the community and hold these railroads accountable.”

The Republican National Research Committee’s research Twitter account flagged both appearances.

“Pete Buttigieg says it’d be too ‘disruptive’ if Biden — who didn’t say a word about it for 18 DAYS — visited the toxic train disaster in East Palestine, Ohio,” it tweeted in response to his CNN appearance.

“Another dodge from Pete Buttigieg on whether Biden — who waited 18 days before saying a word about the toxic train disaster — will ever visit East Palestine, Ohio,” it tweeted after his MSNBC appearance.