The mayor of East Palestine, Ohio, endorsed former President Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential election and slammed President Joe Biden for never having visited the town in the wake of the February 3 train derailment disaster according to Breitbart News.
“I would first like to thank Joe Biden and Hunter Biden for visiting the town — oh, that’s right, they were busy,” East Palestine Mayor Trent R. Conaway joked while on stage at the Lincoln Day dinner in Columbiana, Ohio, on April 24.
Conaway, was introduced to the stage by Donald Trump Jr., and went on to say that President Trump’s visit to East Palestine in February “really changed the way people saw us — the town.”
“They realized that we needed help,” the mayor said. “We’ve been asking for help, and we had the EPA there and other agencies, but we truly got help after [Trump] visited, so we thank you. Without you, this could have been different, so we thank you.”
“The support you showed to me and my residents, we appreciate it, you have no idea how much we appreciated that — it really changed things,” Conaway continued.
“And that’s why, in 2024, I will support your father’s reelection,” the East Palestine mayor added.
Aid and attention were slow to arrive
On February 3, a train operated by Norfolk Southern derailed in East Palestine, spilling toxic chemicals it was carrying into the environment. Cleanup crews ended up igniting five train cars in an attempt to get rid of the hazardous materials, which created a menacing plume of thick smoke that resembled a mushroom cloud.
East Palestine is a city in Columbiana County, Ohio with 4,761 residents as of 2020, according to the United States Census Bureau. Columbiana County, like many rural Ohio counties, is considered very conservative. In the last presidential election, 71.5% of the residents voted for the Republican Party, 26.7% voted Democrat and the remaining 1.8% voted Independent. Mayor Trent R. Conaway is affiliated with the Republican Party. Perhaps this is why the federal aid and attention were slow in coming to the area after the disaster.
The Biden administration and FEMA initially rejected Governor Mike DeWine’s request for aid because it wasn’t considered a natural disaster. Within hours of President Trump’s announcement that he planned to visit the disaster site, FEMA agreed to start releasing emergency relief funds in the area.
Former President Trump brought national attention to the disaster and truckloads of bottled water for the town’s residents.
The day after Trump’s visit, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg finally made a visit amid calls for him to resign.
To his credit, Ohio’s Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown did visit East Palestine, but he has been criticized for jetting off to fundraisers in Hollywood in the midst of the environmental crisis. Some said this was not a good look for the senator who is up for a tough senate race in 2024.
President Biden has still not visited the Ohio town, instead he opted to visit Ukraine and Ireland.
Endorsement has no impact on 538 rankings
FiveThirtyEight launched their endorsement tracker for the 2024 Republican presidential primary on April 19. At that time former President Trump had a commanding lead.
The update on April 25 showed Trump was leading DeSantis 241 to 13 in weighted points based on the status of the endorser: 10 points for former presidents and vice presidents, 8 pts for governors, 6 points for U.S. senators, 5 points for former presidential and vice-presidential nominees, former national party leaders and 2024 presidential candidates who have dropped out; 3 points for U.S. representatives & mayors of large cities and 2 points for officials in statewide elected offices and state legislative leaders.
As mayor of a small city, Trent R. Conaway’s endorsement of the former president will not add to Trump’s total, but it speaks volumes to people in small town Ohio and small-town USA reminding them that former President Trump would come to their aid in an emergency even if President Biden cannot be bothered.