OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Kamala Harris was confronted over the weekend by a reporter who asked her to clarify comments she made last week in which she said that disaster relief in response to Hurricane Ian should be based on “equity,” suggesting a racial component.
But the vice president refused to answer the question, according to a video of the encounter shown by Fox News.
Harris’ remarks came during a back and forth talk with leftist Priyanka Chopra during a women’s leadership forum in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the Democratic National Committee last week after the hurricane made landfall in Florida and left devastation and death in its wake.
“It is our lowest income communities and our communities of color that are most impacted by these extreme conditions and impacted by issues that are not of their own making,” claimed the vice president. “And so we have to address this in a way that is about giving resources based on equity, understanding that we fight for equality, but we also need to fight for equity, understanding not everyone starts out at the same place.
“And if we want people to be in an equal place, sometimes we have to take into account those disparities and do that work,” Harris added.
The vice president on Sunday refused to explain or provide more context for her remarks during a brief exchange with a reporter on Sunday, Fox News noted.
“Vice President, can you clarify what you meant about equity for hurricane relief,” Harris was asked before ignoring the quest.
Harris’s initial comments about reserving aid initially for “communities of color” drew several sharp rebukes online, including from Florida officials and from SpaceX and Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk.
“Should be according to greatest need, not race or anything else,” the billionaire entrepreneur noted on Twitter.
Should be according to greatest need, not race or anything else
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 1, 2022
“The response in my state of Florida has been incredible. My Governor and Floridians are handling the aftermath remarkably. Kamala is exploiting our misfortune to pander to a voter bloc to ahead of the midterms,” noted Josie The Redheaded Libertarian.
“Agreed. Really disgraceful to see her priorities when folks have lost their homes, and some even their lives. Thank you, Elon!” added Students for Trump founder Ron Fournier.
“This is false. @VP‘s rhetoric is causing undue panic and must be clarified. FEMA Individual Assistance is already available to all Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian, regardless of race or background,” Christina Pushaw, communications director for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reelection campaign, noted
“It’s just jaw-dropping that she is talking about prioritizing ‘communities of color’ when the hardest hit communities are like 95% white. Not that it should ever matter in any case,” she added.
On Friday, the Biden administration said that it was working with DeSantis as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide relief to Floridians affected by Ian. Fox News reported that when the hurricane made landfall last week, it was just 2 miles per hour shy of a Category 5 storm.
In the storm’s aftermath, DeSantis took the occasion to warn those with bad intentions that Florida is a Second Amendment state and looters should beware.
“They boarded up all the businesses, and there are people that wrote on their plywood, ‘you loot, we shoot,’” the governor said at a press conference on Friday. “At the end of the day, we are not going to allow lawlessness to take advantage of this situation. We are a law-and-order state, and this is a law-and-order community, so do not think that you’re going to go take advantage of people who’ve suffered misfortune.”
He went on to discuss law enforcement and the fact that Florida is a state that stands behind gun owners.
“The other thing that we’re concerned about, particularly in those areas that were really hard hit, is you know, we wanna make sure we’re maintaining law and order,” he said. “Don’t even think about looting. Don’t even think about taking advantage of people in this vulnerable situation. And so local law enforcement is involved in monitoring that.
“You can have people, you know, bringing boats into some of these islands and trying to ransack people’s homes, and I would not wanna chance that if I were you, given that we’re a Second Amendment state. I can tell you, in the state of Florida, you never know what may be lurking behind somebody’s home,” DeSantis noted further.