In a Thursday MSNBC panel discussing the optics of Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Houston to meet with Hurricane Harvey survivors, one former Obama administration official said the VP may have acted more presidential than the president.
Speaking with MSNBC host Kasie Hunt, former Under Secretary of State Richard Stengel said Pence played the role of compassionate politician well.
“What message did Mike Pence send today that the president didn’t?” Hunt asked.
“He conveyed the kind of empathy that a public servant is — it was good,” Stengel said. “I was pleased to see he said ‘It was my privilege to be able to be here with you today.'”
Stengel’s comments echoed those of The Washington Post‘s White House bureau chief Philip Rucker, who said there was a “huge contrast” between Pence and President Donald Trump’s appearances in Texas.
Whereas Pence hugged and prayed with Houstonians affected by Harvey, Trump appeared more to put on a “campaign rally.”
“[Trump] said very little about the people who were impacted,” Rucker said. “He talked mostly about the government officials and congratulated them on the good work they had done and got up on the fire truck and held up the Texas flag to his big crowd.”
“There wasn’t a lot of empathy that he displayed,” he concluded.
Watch the entire segment below, via MSNBC.