Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg says he feels “sorry” for Donald Trump after the president presented the public with an altered official map of Hurricane Dorian’s forecast to seemingly back his unfounded claims Alabama was within the storm’s trajectory.
The 2020 presidential hopeful criticised Mr Trump in an interview with CNN on Thursday morning, saying: “On one level it’s laughable, on another it’s exactly why we’ve got to do something.”
Mr Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, spoke the day after Mr Trump showed media the National Hurricane Centre’s forecast for the storm on a large map in the Oval Office, along with an addition. Alabama’s southern coastline had seemingly been circled in with a black marker. A black sharpie pen of the sort Mr Trump uses to sign bills was reportedly seen near the president’s Resolute Desk.
“I feel sorry for the president,” Mr Buttigieg said. “That is not the way we should feel about the most powerful figure in this country.
“I don’t know if he felt it necessary to pull out a sharpie and change the map, I don’t know if one of his aides felt they needed to do it to protect his ego, but no matter how you cut it, it’s an unbelievably sad state of affairs for the country.”
The president continued to assert his claims about the storm’s path as it slowly barrelled towards the US, looking likely to impact the Carolinas, Georgia and parts of Florida.
“In the early days of the hurricane, when it was predicted that Dorian would go through Miami or West Palm Beach, even before it reached the Bahamas, certain models strongly suggested that Alabama and Georgia would be hit as it made its way through Florida and to the Gulf,” Mr Trump tweeted on Thursday morning.
The storm left the Bahamas devastated, with thousands of homes and buildings destroyed. The death toll rose to at least 20 and it is likely to increase when officials ramp up emergency rescue efforts in the coming days. Its trajectory did not include Alabama at any part throughout the week, according to the National Hurricane Centre.
The mayor, who has met the Democratic National Committee’s requirements to participate in the third primary debates next week, described Mr Trump’s apparent efforts to support his claims about the hurricane as “humiliating”.
“This is an embarrassment for the country,” he said, adding: “It’s literally pathetic. It makes you feel a kind of pity.”
Mr Trump would not say who altered the map, telling reporters shortly after the incident: “I don’t know, I don’t know. I just know, I know Alabama was in the original forecast.” He claimed there had been a 95 per cent certainty that the storm would hit Alabama.
“They thought they would get it as a piece of it,” he said. “It was supposed to go – actually we have a better map than that which is going to be presented where we had many lines going directly, many models, each line being a model, going directly through. And in all cases Alabama was it.”
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