US President Donald Trump on Friday (6 October) used an exaggerated Spanish accent to pronounce "Puerto Rico" during a speech at an event celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at the White House and Twitter couldn't stop cringing. Speaking to a crowd of representatives from over 200 Hispanic businesses, community and faith groups gathered in the East Room of the White House, Trump drew out the vowels in the name of the US territory three times.

"We are also praying for the people of Puerto Rico," Trump said. "We love Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico."

"And we also love Puerto Rico," he added in his usual accent to some laughter in the audience.

During the event honouring the Hispanic community for its contributions to the US, Trump said: "You teach our children. You lead our churches. You protect our communities and you defend our nation. Among you are leaders in government, faith, and business. Fantastic people in this audience.

"I know some of them, and believe me, they're very tough and they're very smart. Sometimes they're too tough. But that's OK. I have to deal with it. I have to deal with it. Fantastic people."

Twitter, on the other hand, was not amused by the president's over-pronunciation of the hurricane-ravaged island's name, given his rocky relationship with the Latino community.

Trump's remarks also come just days after his recent visit to Puerto Rico following the devastating Hurricane Maria drew sharp criticism over his "condescending" remarks and "shameful" paper towel throwing during the trip.

"The fact that he thinks he is funny when he does stupid and hateful garbage like this says volumes about who he truly is," one Twitter user wrote. Another added: "Just because you say Puerto Rico with a Spanish accent doesn't make you likeable. You're an embarrassment. Just stop."

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President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump host an event to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month at the White House. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque