President Donald Trump on Thursday canceled his trip to attend World War II anniversary commemorations in Poland, saying he needs to deal with the approaching Hurricane Dorian.
“To ensure that all resources of the federal government are focused on the arriving storm, I have decided to send our vice president, Mike Pence, to Poland this weekend in my place,” he said at the White House.
Trump warned that Dorian, which is on track to hit Florida possibly as a dangerous Category 4 hurricane, could be a “very big one.”
The president had been scheduled to attend ceremonies in Warsaw marking the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.
He was one of the few major foreign leaders attending the event and had framed the visit as part of what he says is a close relationship with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
However, with the president still stinging from accusations that he mishandled his response to the devastating Hurricane Maria, which struck Puerto Rico in 2017, he is clearly determined to appear in charge this time.
In addition to being home to two major Trump golf resorts, Florida is a key state in the presidential election campaign map ahead of 2020 polls.
“It’s something very important for me to be here,” Trump said in his surprise announcement.
“Our highest priority is the safety and security of the people in the path of the hurricane.”
He said he’d just spoken with Duda and would “be rescheduling my trip to Poland in the near future.”
It’s been a hectic month for US-European diplomatic ties.
Just over a week ago Trump stunned the Danish government when he withdrew at the last minute from a planned state visit — due to take place after the Poland trip.
He said he had been offended by the “nasty” rejection of his idea of buying the territory of Greenland, which Denmark said was not even for sale.
Last weekend, Trump was in France for a drama-packed G7 meeting with the leaders of Canada, Japan and Britain, France, Germany and Italy.
Trump has declared himself on many occasions particularly fond of Poland, often referring back to a speech he made during a visit in 2017.
“I could say it, but I don’t want to say it, but some people said it was the best speech ever made by a president in Europe,” he told reporters at the White House in June.