- Donald Trump visited East Palestine, Ohio, on Wednesday, following a disastrous train derailment.
- The 2024 Republican candidate donated pallets of Trump-branded water to residents.
- Trump’s visit raised questions about his administration’s rollback of rail safety regulations.
Donald Trump brought his 2024 presidential campaign to East Palestine, Ohio, on Wednesday, nearly three weeks after a cataclysmic train derailment prompted an environmental disaster in the small town following the release of toxic chemicals.
The former president’s visit to the northeastern village preempted Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s arrival by one day, and Trump relished every opportunity to castigate his Democratic successors, saying Buttigieg “should have already been here,” and commanding President Joe Biden to “get over here,” according to local reports.
While assuring East Palestine residents that they had “not been forgotten,” Trump managed to tout his own presence in the besieged community and brush off questions about his administration’s noted history of rolling back regulations on both rail safety and hazardous chemicals.
Trump started his day by briefly visiting with local leaders, according to WKBN-27, before conducting a small press conference at a fire station, where, donning his signature “Make America Great Again” hat, he handed out a flurry of red baseball caps to attendees.
During his speech, Trump pledged to donate thousands of bottles of cleaning supplies, as well as pallets of Trump-branded water bottles to members of the community, many of whom have expressed continued concern over the safety of the town’s water supply following the derailment.
“You wanna get those Trump bottles, I think, more than anybody else,” Trump said, while flanked by state and local leaders, including Republican Sen. JD Vance.
—Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 22, 2023
The former president dismissed questions about his administration’s rollback of Obama-era rail safety regulations saying he “had nothing to do with it.”
The Trump administration slashed several environmental and rail regulations while in office, most notably rescinding a 2015 proposal to require faster brakes on trains that were carrying highly flammable or hazardous materials.
The Norfolk Southern Railroad Company freight train involved in this month’s crash was carrying vinyl chloride, a colorless gas and known carcinogen, which produced a plume of smoke over East Palestine.
The Department of Transportation under Trump justified the rollback with a 2018 analysis arguing the cost of requiring such brakes would be “significantly higher” than the expected benefits of the update.
A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Following his Wednesday news conference, Trump visited a local Ohio McDonald’s where he handed out more MAGA hats and bought meals for firefighters.