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Biden says he and the first lady will travel to Hawaii 'as soon as we can'

The president also detailed federal aid to Hawaii, including FEMA’s approval of 50,000 meals, 75,000 liters of water and 10,000 blankets.
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President Joe Biden addressed the Hawaii wildfires at the start of his economics speech in Milwaukee on Tuesday as the death toll nears 100.

"Imagine being a mom or dad wondering where your child is. Imagine being a husband or wife or mother or father," he said. "It's really tough stuff."

Biden said he and first lady Jill Biden will go to Hawaii "as soon as we can." He said he has been talking about potential travels with Gov. Josh Green.

"I don't want to get in the way. I've been to too many disaster areas," Biden said. "But I want to go and make sure we got everything they need. I want to be sure we don't disrupt the ongoing recovery efforts."

Biden detailed federal aid to Hawaii, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency's approval of 50,000 meals, 75,000 liters of water and 10,000 blankets. He said almost 500 federal personnel have been deployed to Maui.

"In the meantime, you always hear this phrase, and I've been to so many disasters in my career, it's almost hollow. Our prayers, our thoughts and prayers, are with the people of Hawaii," Biden said. "And not just our prayers. Every asset, every asset they need will be there for them."

He said, "We will be there in Maui as long as it takes."

Biden spoke with Green and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell aboard Air Force One on his way to Milwaukee.

"I reassured the Governor that Hawai’i will continue to have everything it needs from the federal government, and directed Administrator Criswell to keep surging resources and personnel as long as it takes," Biden tweeted. "Every asset they need will be there for them."

Image: President Joe Biden speaks at Ingeteam Inc. on Aug. 15, 2023, in Milwaukee.
President Joe Biden speaks Tuesday in Milwaukee.Morry Gash / AP

Biden spoke a day shy of the first anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act, a signature part of his economic agenda, which he has touted in a series of cross-country events in recent months.

Before his speech, Biden toured Ingeteam, a clean energy manufacturing company that produces wind turbine generators, a White House official said. The official said Ingeteam expects wind turbine generator orders to double next year because of the IRA. Also on the tour were Gov. Tony Evers, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Rep. Gwen Moore, union workers and company representatives, the White House said.

Companies in Wisconsin have committed more than $3 billion in manufacturing and clean energy investments during Biden's term, the White House said.

Biden spoke in Milwaukee one week before it hosts the first GOP presidential primary debate. Biden won Wisconsin by a slim margin, 49.4% to Donald Trump's 48.8%, in 2020, flipping the state blue.