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Trump's next great test

Illustration of Trump looking up at a stormy sky while a hurricane symbol spins around his finger
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

As Americans face Hurricane Florence's landfall, President Trump inaccurately accused Democrats of fabricating Hurricane Maria's death toll to make him look bad.

The bottom line: The Carolinas will need the president and FEMA on their game, undistracted by cable news and past grudges

  • "3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths ..."
  • "This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico."

Go deeper: Our reality check on the death toll estimates.

Between the lines: Even Trump-aligned Florida Republicans shied away from his statements.

  • Gov. Rick Scott (running for Senate) and Rep. Ron DeSantis (running for governor) both publicly defended Puerto Rico's casualty estimates. Their state is now home to hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans who left after the storms.

What's next:

  • Florence will bring the storm surge equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane and an inland flooding threat of historic proportions.
  • In inland areas, more than 3 feet of rain may fall as the storm lumbers southwest into South Carolina through Saturday.
  • By early next week, heavy rains could spread up the spine of the Appalachians and reach the Mid-Atlantic states.

Go deeper: Our full storm coverage.