By Elizabeth Crisp
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, on CNN Sunday morning, praised GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump for coming to see the massive flooding damage in the state first-hand.
"I think ... because it helped shine a spotlight on Louisiana and the dire situation that we have here that it was helpful," Edwards told CNN's Dana Bash.
Edwards, a Democrat, also acknowledged that Trump made a $100,000 donation to Greenwell Springs Baptist Church that he visited during his trip, and brought attention to the plight of the thousands of people who have been displaced by the flooding, which has left 13 people dead.
Edwards said that Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, called him Friday morning to offer assistance and discuss the situation.
"We spoke for a long time Friday morning about their desire to be helpful," Edwards said.
Former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, also a Democrat, had praised Trump's trip earlier on Friday, saying that it brought needed attention to the plight here.
Edwards on Friday, after Trump left, had dodged questions about Trump during a local press conference.
Before Trump's visit his office had said he was not notified about the impending trip and hoped that it would not become a mere "photo-op."
"Instead we hope he'll consider volunteering or making a sizable donation to the Louisiana Flood Relief Fund to help the victims of this storm," Edwards' spokesman Richard Carbo said Thursday night.
The governor drew fire from Trump's campaign for the remarks, eliciting condemnations from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both Republicans and ardent supporters of Trump.
"The criticism by Louisiana's Governor is injecting partisan politics into a tragic national disaster. I refused to do that during Hurricane Sandy and I put the people of New Jersey first. Governor Edwards should do the same thing because the people of Louisiana deserve better," Christie said in a statement released by the Trump campaign.
Edwards had also defended President Barack Obama's absence, saying he worried it would be a drain on resources.
"I would just as soon he wait a week or two," Edwards told reporters.
After Trump's visit, the White House announced that Obama would visit Baton Rouge to meet with area leaders and view flood-affected areas on Tuesday.
Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, has not scheduled a tour her, but said she has been in touch with Edwards and offered her sympathy for the victims.
(c)2016 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.