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The Latest: Melania Trump salutes hurricane victims

First lady Melania Trump, speaks at the White House Historical Association reception and dinner in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

9:10 p.m.

First lady Melania Trump is paying tribute to the victims of recent hurricanes as she and her husband host a dinner at the White House.

The president and first lady traveled to Florida Thursday to survey the devastation of Hurricane Irma and meet with victims and rescue workers.

Mrs. Trump says that in both Florida and Texas she and her husband met “so many who lost so much.”

But she says that in those people she has seen “the true spirit of this nation: an unwavering commitment to overcome, to rebuild, and to renew what was swept away.”

She adds that: “Together, we all hurt with these victims. And together we vow to lift our neighborhoods from the deepest of despair.”

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8:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump is praising the White House as “a place that I’ve grown to love and respect” as he and first lady Melania Trump host the White House Historical Association’s annual dinner.

Trump describes the building as a “house like no other” that conjures “beauty,” ”warmth,” ”power” and sometimes “coldness.”

He’s also talking about hurricane recovery efforts in Florida, and says authorities there have done an “A-plus job.”

The White House Historical Association is a nonprofit association founded in the early 1960s by Jacqueline Kennedy to preserve and provide public access to the White House.

The group’s president, Stewart D. McLaurin, says it is “pleased to be honored by the White House for the work we undertake.”

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4:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he has finally spoken with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to offer his condolences after last week’s deadly earthquake.

Trump tells reporters aboard Air Force One that he had “a good talk” with Peña Nieto Thursday. He says: “That whole earthquake is terrible. We paid our respects.”

Trump has also explained his delay in reaching his Mexican counterpart. He says it had been “impossible to reach” Peña Nieto because he was in the mountains and had no cell reception.

Trump adds in a tweet that he has spoken to the “President of Mexico to give condolences on terrible earthquake. Unable to reach for 3 days b/c of his cell phone reception at site.”

Last week’s earthquake killed dozens of people across Mexico.

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3:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s planning to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, which were both badly damaged by hurricane winds.

Trump tells reporters aboard Air Force One that he’ll be making the trip “at the end of next week or the following week.”

Trump spent Thursday surveying flood damage and visiting with storm victims in Florida.

He’s also been to Texas twice.

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1:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump handed out sandwiches and Vice President Mike Pence handed gave out bananas to people in a Florida mobile home community torn up by Hurricane Irma.

They were joined by first lady Melania Trump at Naples Estates, a mobile home community for people 55 and older. Around them were piles of debris, including tall piles of siding, furniture and branches.

The trio handed out food and posed for photos as people approached them. Most thanked them. One man yelled, “Make America Great Again!” Another told Trump that he “married well.”

Trump pledged to be “there for you 100 percent.”

Trump is touring the storm damage in Florida, where many remain swamped and without electricity. Nearly 2.7 million homes and businesses, about 1 in 4 Florida customers, remain without power.

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12:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he wants to cut taxes to help middle-class Americans, not rich ones.

He told reporters Thursday in Florida that his tax cut plans are “not to benefit the wealthy.” His plans include reducing individual taxes and lowering the corporate rate to 15 percent,

Trump seems to be backpedaling on comments Wednesday, when he suggested rates could go higher for rich people. Trump said then, “if they have to go higher, they’ll go higher, frankly.”

He didn’t say that Thursday, and he emphasized that wealthy Americans are not his priority. Trump said that “the individual rate coming down will be substantial for the middle class,” adding those are the Americans he aims to “take care of.”

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11:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump is making a political pitch for Republican Gov. Rick Scott while in Florida to survey hurricane damage from Irma.

The president says in Fort Myers, Florida, that he hopes Scott “runs for the Senate. I don’t know what he’s going to do.”

Scott hasn’t decided on a future Senate campaign. But the wealthy two-term governor is considered a leading contender for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson next year.

Trump says alongside Scott and other Florida officials that he knows “at a certain point it ends for you and we can’t let it end. So I hope he runs for the Senate.”

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9 a.m.

President Donald Trump is praising the recovery efforts in Florida before departing for the state to survey hurricane damage from Irma.

The president tells reporters at the White House that “power is being turned on rapidly,” and the state’s leaders and emergency responders are doing an “amazing job” in helping the state respond to the massive storm.

Trump is traveling to Naples and Fort Myers to meet with those affected by the hurricane and learn more about relief efforts. Trump will travel with Vice President Mike Pence and first lady Melania Trump.

His trip to Florida follows two earlier outings in which Trump reviewed Harvey recovery efforts in late August.

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4:03 a.m.

President Donald Trump is heading to Florida to survey the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

The president is traveling to the hurricane-stricken state Thursday to meet with those affected by the storm and learn more about relief efforts.

He’ll be stopping in Ft. Myers and Naples on the southwestern coast.

This is Trump’s third visit in less than three weeks to a hurricane-damaged state. He visited Texas and Louisiana after Harvey struck. Trump tweeted Wednesday that he planned to meet “with our great Coast Guard, FEMA and many of the brave first responders & others.”

The president monitored the storm over the weekend from Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

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