Trump vows to return to Florida after viewing "historic" Irma impacts

Last Updated Sep 14, 2017 2:08 PM EDT

President Trump told residents of Florida that he will return to the region and will do whatever it takes to help rebuild the state after seeing just some of the damage sustained to the state during Hurricane Irma.

"I just want to tell you, we are there for you 100 percent. I'll be back here numerous times. I mean, this is a state that I know very well, as you understand. And these are special, special people, and we love 'em," Mr. Trump told reporters during his visit.

The president was joined by First Lady Melania Trump as they arrived in the Fort Myers area, where he thanked first responders and members of the U.S. Coast Guard for their efforts after receiving a short briefing by FEMA officials. Vice President Mike Pence and a White House delegation of cabinet officials also joined the president on the majority of the trip.

Mr. Trump noted the "incredible power of the storm" and credited the small number of lives lost during Irma to the work of rescue teams throughout the state. The president also took time to acknowledge the work of Florida Gov. Rick Scott, even going so far as to prod the governor on a possible senate run.

"I have to say, what do I know, but I hope this man runs for the Senate," said Mr. Trump of Scott.

He told Scott, "at a certain point, it ends for you, but I don't want it to end. I hope he runs for the Senate."

Mr. Trump later was able to tour a neighborhood in Naples, Florida that suffered damage and speak with supporters, as he handed out sandwiches and water to displaced residents.

While the trip allowed the president to see for himself suffering and damage sustained by Floridians during the storm, much of the visit was dominated by Mr. Trump's comments on immigration, where he expanded on earlier comments about his Wednesday night meeting with Democrats over ongoing negotiations on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).

Upon his arrival in Florida, Mr. Trump told reporters, "We're working on a deal, very important is the wall to me and we have to know the wall will not be obstructed," said Mr. Trump of immigration and border security discussions with Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Mr. Trump said protections for DACA recipients, known as "Dreamers," wouldn't offer citizenship or amnesty, but the White House wants to "do something."

"We're talking about taking care of people, people brought here that have done a good job. But very importantly what we want we have to have a wall, added Mr. Trump.

The president also acknowledged criticism from conservatives, saying all DACA negotiations are being done "in conjunction with Republicans" but warned he would only cut a deal if he gets an "extreme security" package, and ultimately Congress would have to pay for his southern border wall.

"If we don't have the wall, we're doing nothing," he insisted, though he added funding would be addressed "either in the budget or some other vehicle."

During questions with reporters earlier Thursday morning, Mr. Trump also addressed his DACA negotiations with Democrats Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer Wednesday night, saying that the border wall would be built "a little bit later."

Follow along for live updates of Trump's trip:


Trump departs Florida for Washington

After viewing hurricane impacts, the president and first lady depart the Naples region to head back to D.C..

President tours flooded areas on Marine One

The presidential helicopter flew over flooded areas of the Naples region, giving Mr. Trump a look at the damage sustained during Hurricane Irma from above. 

Crowds chant "USA" as Trump hands out food to residents

Mr. Trump shook hands with displaced residents and helped hand out sandwiches and water to those currently without shelter.  

"Who wants a banana?" he shouted to the crowd. 

The president thanked supporters who lined up for food, telling one gentleman in a Trump campaign shirt grabbing a sandwich, "you're wearing a good shirt, take two."

One supporter, encouraged by the president, told reporter's "where was Obama on the last hurricane, he was playing golf."

"Was this a good vote?," Mr. Trump asked the gentleman, "The best," he responded. 

Trump sees wreckage from Irma

The president and first lady toured a neighborhood in Naples that appeared to suffer some substantial damage and spoke briefly with residents. 

Mr. Trump shook hands with a resident named Bobby who had been helping with residents who are out of town with patching up roofs.  "It's a fantastic job, you're working hard," Mr. Trump told the gentleman. 

The president told reporters he loves the people of Florida and that he intends to return back to the state to help. 

"Everybody has been incredible and the people that live here, immediately getting back to fix their homes, we are there for you 100 percent, I'll be back here numerous times, it's a state I know very well," he added. 

Trump arrives in Naples, Florida

The president and White House delegation greeted residents after landing in Naples and took photos with locals on the tarmac. 

Trump thanks media for  "understanding"

In a rare moment for the often media-critical president, Mr. Trump told reporters, "We appreciate your being so understanding, it's been a very tough period of time even for you folks, we appreciate your understanding."

Trump: Keys was a very special problem

"We're deadset on that," said Mr. Trump of rebuilding efforts in the Florida Keys, the hardest hit area in the state. 

Pence told responders that the administration will be with all the victims until Florida rebuilds again. 

Trump calls response to Irma "incredible"

He credited the small amount of lives lost to the work of the U.S. Coast Guard and first responders working during the storm,  but urged to them, "I don't want to see you next week in another place, I've seen you enough."

Mr. Trump applauded the work of Gov. Scott, saying he's been "talked about all over" as well as the work being done in order to restore power to the region. 

"They're way ahead of schedule, there are more electrical people in this state than I think accumulated anywhere in the world, added Mr. Trump. 

The president gave a strong hand shake with Sen. Rubio, telling the Republican "you were really helpful."

Mr. Trump then took the time to predict a senate run for Gov. Scott, telling reporters, "I have to say, what do I know, but I hope this man runs for the Senate." He told Scott, "at a certain point it ends for you but I don't want it to end, I hope he runs for the Senate."

Trump talks DACA, tax reform in Florida

"We're working on a deal, very important is the wall to me and we have to know the wall will not be obstructed," said Mr. Trump of the border security package discussions with Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. 

Mr. Trump said in regards to offering protections to "Dreamers" he said the administraiton is not looking at offering citizenship or amnesty, but that the White House wants to "do something."

"We're talking about taking care of people, people brought here that have done a good job. But very importantly what we want we have to have a wall, added Mr. Trump.

The president acknowledged criticism from Conservatives, saying all DACA negotiations are being done "in conjunction with Republicans" but warned he would only cut a deal if he gets an "extreme security" package.  

"If we don't have the wall we're doing nothing," he pressed, adding funding would be addressed "either in the budget or some other vehicle."

The president also told reporters that his priority remains on the middle class as the administration eyes tax reform on their to-do list of agenda setting measures.   

Trump, first lady land in Florida

The president and first lady touch down in Fort Myers as Mr. Trump greets Florida Governor Rick Scott, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and FEMA administrator Brock Long on the airport tarmac. 

Pence lands in Florida ahead of POTUS arrival

Vice President Mike Pence touches down at the Fort Myers airport ahead of Mr. Trump's arrival. He is expected to shadow the president's trip, joining in on briefings by FEMA officials. 

Melania tweets from Marine One

The first lady says she's set to meet with FEMA and "people affected by #HurricaneIrma", tweeting out a video as she lifts off from the South Lawn en route to Joint Andrews air force base. 

Trump, first lady depart White House for Florida

The president and first lady head into Marine One to embark on their trip to the region. Mr. Trump addresses reporters before leaving the South Law, saying, "Historically there's never been anything like this."

Mr. Trump calls the efforts to restore power to the region "the largest assembling of human beings ever for power and rapidly it's being turned on so were very happy with that."

Trump tweets Irma is a "real disaster

President Trump tweets in the early morning of his trip to Florida, calling Hurricane Irma a "real disaster" and that there was "much work to do" in the relief efforts.

"Am leaving now for Florida to see our GREAT first responders and to thank the U.S. Coast Guard, FEMA etc.," he wrote.

 

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital