Former Republican President Donald Trump used the recent train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio as an opportune moment to hawk his brand of spring water.
On February 3, 2023, a Norfolk Southern Railroad Company freight train carrying hazardous materials from Madison, Illinois to Conway, Pennsylvania derailed, causing roughly 150 train cars to turn over and at least 50 cars to erupt into flames and release toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.
The cataclysmic disaster prompted an evacuation of roughly 1,500 residents–more than a quarter of the small northeastern Ohio village's population–near the Pennsylvania state line.
There were no reported injuries. The cause of the derailment is still unknown.
Trump brought his 2024 presidential campaign to East Palestine on Wednesday and assured the ravaged community "they had not been forgotten."
He also seized the moment to elevate himself by chastising Democratic leaders.
Trump told President Joe Biden to "get over here" and noted how the Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, "should have already been here"–after Trump forestalled Buttigieg's appearance by one day.
During a press conference held at the local fire station with a small group of leaders and first responders, Trump–donning his signature red MAGA cap–pledged to send thousands of bottles of cleaning supplies.
He also said he would deliver pallets of Trump-branded water bottles to the displaced residents of the community–even though Ohio Governor Mike DeWine declared the town's water was safe to drink on February 15.
Trump told the gathered crowd:
“We’re bringing thousands of bottles of water–Trump Water, actually."
"Most of it. Some of it we had to go to a much lesser quality of water. You want to get those Trump bottles.”
The Huffington Post said some Twitter users speculated the bottles of water were Trump's discontinued designer water brand, Ice Natural Spring Water brand– typically referred to as "Trump Ice."
It was featured on the first season of Trump's reality competition TV show, The Apprentice.
Although the brand was discontinued in 2010, Trump continues to produce the water for use in his establishments, and is not sold commercially.
Social media users slammed Trump for exploiting a small-town tragedy to promote himself–though many were hardly shocked at his promotional endeavor.
Many noted his recent stunt was unsurprisingly on brand, and they ruthlessly mocked him for it.
When critics commented how the East Palestine disaster was the result of his administration's constantly pushing to cut costs and rolling back rail regulations, Trump said he had "nothing to do with that."
When asked about Trump's visit, Buttigieg responded without mentioning Trump's name to avoid violating the Hatch Act–which restricts what federal employees can say about politics.
“A lot of the folks who seem to find political opportunity there are among those who sided with the industry time and time again."
"They have fought safety regulations on trains and hazmat tooth and nail.”
Twitter continued weighing in after making a connection between Trump and the train derailing.
An Entertainment Weekly column repudiated Trump Ice's claim of being “one of the highest quality spring waters in the world with an optimum mineral content."
Michael Mascha, the publisher of the website FineWaters, indicated that the mineral content in the Trump-branded spring water was actually "very low" and was not a luxury item since it came in a plastic bottle instead of one made of glass.
Mascha added that the brand was "clearly not about the water but rather a vehicle for the Trump image."
"I think this is what gives bottled water a bad reputation: asking a premium for the image on the bottle rather than focusing on the water and the source."