Politics August 23, 2016: Obama finally tours flood-ravaged Louisiana over a week too late

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Obama finally tours flood-ravaged Louisiana over a week too late

By Bonnie K. Goodman

 

 

Over a week after heavy rainstorms flooded Louisiana, President Barack Obama finally toured the most damaged areas. On Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016, Obama visited Baton Rouge, Louisiana, saying his tour “is not a photo-op.” Obama waited until he finished his two-week vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts to tour the damage after much criticism locally in Louisiana and by Republicans particularly GOP nominee Donald Trump, who toured Louisiana last Friday, Aug. 20 with his vice presidential running mate Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

President Obama arrived in Louisiana at “11:45 a.m. Central time,” where he was met by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, his wife, Donna, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, and Sen. David Vitter, at Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport. He first visited Castle Place neighborhood, which had been affected badly by the floods. There Obama met and spoke with residents, rescuers and officials. The flooding caused 13 deaths, 106,000 households “registered for assistance from Federal Emergency Management Agency,” and 60,000 homes were damaged. Afterward, the president met with the families of shooting victims Alton Sterling and the Baton Rouge Police Department.

After his tour, President Obama delivered some remarks. The president expressed, “I come here first and foremost to say that the prayers of the entire nation are with everybody who lost loved ones. We are heartbroken by the loss of life. There are also still people who are desperately trying to track down friends and family we are going to keep on helping them every way that we can.”

Continuing Obama said, “Sometimes when these kinds of things happen it can seem too much to bear but what I want the people of Louisiana to know is that you’re not alone on this. Even after the TV cameras leave. The whole country is going to continue to support you and help you until we get folks back in their homes and lives are rebuilt.”
President Obama also praised FEMA’s response, which they already spent $127 million on the tragedy. Obama said FEMA’s help is not enough, “Now, federal assistance alone won’t be enough to make people’s lives whole again so I’m asking every American to do what you can to help get families and local businesses back on their feet.”

The president also jabbed Trump for criticizing him because he did not cut his vacation short to tour the damage earlier. Obama expressed, “So let me just remind folks: sometimes once the floodwaters pass, people’s attention spans pass. This is not a one-off. This is not a photo-op issue. This is how do you make sure that a month from now, three months from now, six months from now people still are getting the help that they need.”

Trump toured the damage with his running mate Mike Pence on Friday, where the GOP nominee donated an 18-wheeler of supplies. Trump was still criticizing the president this past weekend after the White House announced the president’s Tuesday visit. Trump told Fox News, “Tuesday’s too late. Hop into the plane and go down and go to Louisiana and see what’s going on, because it’s a mess.”

The president has been widely criticized for not cutting his vacation short to visit the worst flooding in Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Instead, Obama was golfing and fundraising for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who also did not visit Louisiana’s flooding victims. Both had been critical of then President George W. Bush when he flew over and did stop during Hurricane Katrina, and took three days to visit the devastation.

Obama took over a week, but the White House deflected the criticism by pointing out the president declared an emergency on Aug. 14, when aid kicked in and Obama received briefings in the interim. The White House was also defensive attacking Trump for saying the same thing Obama did back in 2007 when he was a Democratic candidate running for president. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One the “President is used to people trying to score political points even in situations where they shouldn’t.”

Clinton, who fiercely attacked Bush when she was a New York Senator running for the Democratic nomination in 2007, this time went after Trump for actually visiting the victims in a timely manner. Clinton issued a statement saying, “This month’s floods in Louisiana are a crisis that demand a national response. I am committed to visiting communities affected by these floods, at a time when the presence of a political campaign will not disrupt the response, to discuss how we can and will rebuild together.”

Politics August 20, 2016: Trump and Pence tour flooded Louisiana; Obama finally will visit on Tuesday

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Trump and Pence tour flooded Louisiana; Obama finally will visit on Tuesday

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Republican nominee Donald Trump became the first major leader to visit flood-ravaged Louisiana, beating out President Barack Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump visited Baton Rouge along with his vice presidential running mate Indiana Governor Mike Pence toured the damage on Friday, Aug. 19, 2016. Trump specifically visited Greenwell Springs in East Baton Rouge, St. Amant in Ascension Parish, and some areas of Lafayette.

A Louisiana Republican leadership delegation met Trump at the airport. The delegation included “Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, Attorney General Jeff Landry, Congressman Garret Graves, Congressman Steve Scalise, and Eric Skrmetta, a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission and co-chair of Trump’s campaign in Louisiana.” Pence arrived before Trump with his wife Karen and daughter Charlotte and received an early briefing.

Trump and Pence’s visit took them to the areas where the floodwaters are now receding, and the real damage is visible. Trump visited Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, where he met with
“Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.”

There Trump and Perkins criticized vacationing President Obama for not coming to the state. Trump said, “The president says he doesn’t want to go; he is trying to get out of a golf game.” Meanwhile, Perkins commented, “I heard he wants to stay under par while we are under water.” Then Trump joked, “He will never be under par.”

The GOP ticket commenced their tour by meeting with “local officials, volunteers and the National Guard and touring the flood damage.” The Republican ticket met also with “Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization.” They visited one of the organizations’ mobile kitchens, and where they were “cheered by the crowds.”

Trump also donated an 18-wheeler full of supplies, and he and Pence helped unload them. Trump said at that time to reporters, “I’ve had a great history with Louisiana. They need a lot of help. What’s happened here is incredible. Nobody understands how bad it is. It’s really incredible. So, I’m just here to help.” Liberals later criticized because the supplies included many toys.

Pence also commented to the media, saying, “These volunteers are incredibly inspiring but the American people need to know that Louisiana needs help. Volunteers, support for the Red Cross, support to the charities like Samaritan’s Purse that are coming along side these vulnerable families and we’re just here to help tell that story and very inspired by it.”

Louisiana’s Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ issued a statement about Trump’s visit that was semi-critical. Edwards office said, “Gov. Edwards wasn’t informed of the Trump campaign’s visit to the state or the schedule. We welcome them to Louisiana, but not for a photo-op. Instead, we hope they’ll consider volunteering or making a sizable donation to the LA Flood Relief Fund to help the victims of this storm.”

Obama has been vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts and been spending most of his time golfing, except a fundraiser for Clinton. The president is facing criticism for avoiding visit Louisiana in the past week. The flooding has caused 13 deaths, while thousands have been dislocated forced to leave their homes because of the flooding, with many of these homes damaged, it has been the worst devastation Louisiana has seen in years.

The White House later announced on Friday, that Obama would be touring the damage in Louisiana on Tuesday, Aug. 23. The White House’s statement announcing the visit said the President is “eager to get a first-hand look at the impact of the devastating floods and hear from more officials about the response, including how the federal government can assist and tell the people of Louisiana that the American people will be with them as they rebuild their community and come back stronger than ever.”

Neither has Clinton visited the region. Instead, she received a briefing from Gov. Bell. Clinton posted a message after on Facebook, writing, “My heart breaks for Louisiana, and right now, the relief effort can’t afford any distractions. The very best way this team can help is to make sure Louisianans have the resources they need,” she wrote in the post. “These are our friends, our family members, our community –, and they’re counting on us to reach out with open arms right now.”

Full Text Political Transcripts August 28, 2015: President George W. Bush’s Speech at Warren Easton Charter High School on the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

BUSH PRESIDENCY:

Remarks by President George W. Bush at Warren Easton Charter High School on the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Source: Bush Center, 8-28-15

Friday, August 28, 2015

New Orleans, Louisiana

(August 28, 2015)

Thank you all.  As has been mentioned, in 2006 Laura and I came here to Warren Easton Charter High School a year after Katrina hit, and we are honored and pleased to be back on the tenth anniversary of that devastating storm.  I can’t think of a better place to come here in New Orleans, except for some of the restaurants.  (Laughter.) The slogan that guided the school when we first visited is true today:  “We believe in success.”  And because of the success that schools like this have achieved, you have given all Americans reason to believe that New Orleans is back and better than ever.

Mr. Mayor, thank you for your hospitality.  You and the First Lady have been so gracious to us, and we want to thank you for your leadership.  If enthusiasm and a good strategy count, New Orleans is in good hands.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

By the way, I do bring greetings from one of the co-chairmen of the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund:  41.  (Laughter.)  He had one of the great lines of all time.  He said, “Who would have thought that getting out of bed at age 91 would be more dangerous than jumping out of an airplane at age 90?”  (Laughter.)

I want to thank David Garland, President of the Warren Easton Charter Foundation Board.  I want to thank all the folks who have shown up.  As Laura said, we had a roundtable discussion.  Many of our friends were there, people who we worked with.  I think of Norman Francis for example, one of the great leaders of New Orleans, one of the great minds of New Orleans.  (Applause.)

In spite of the devastation, we have many fond memories.  I remember sitting with [General Russel] Honore on top one of those big ships, strategizing.  I think you were drinking; I wasn’t of course.  (Laughter.)  It is great to see you.  We’re honored that you took time to come.

Members of Congress, Members of the State House, Superintendent White, on and on:  thank you for coming.

I really want to thank the leadership of the school.  I’m going to talk about them here in a minute, although I must confess, the Principal is always a teacher.  So she tried to teach me how to Second Line with the band here at Warren Easton.  (Laughter.)  I know she didn’t say it, but she was thinking, this boy needs a lot of work.  (Laughter.)  So we’re thrilled we’re here.  Thanks for your hospitality.

In a cruel twist, Hurricane Katrina brought despair during what should have been a season of hope – the start of a new school year.  Students who had recently gone back to school suddenly had no school to go back to.  Many had nowhere to live.  The floodwaters, as you all know better than most, claimed schools and homes alike.  As Laura mentioned, the ground we’re on today was underwater.  All of us who are old enough to remember will never forget the images of our fellow Americans amid a sea of misery and ruin.  We will always remember the lives lost across the Gulf Coast.  Their memories are in our hearts – and I hope you pray for their families.

Hurricane Katrina is a story of loss beyond measure; it is also a story of commitment and compassion.  I hope you remember what I remember, and that is 30,000 people were saved in the immediate aftermath of the storm by U.S. military personnel, by Louisiana law enforcement, and by citizens who volunteered.  I hope you remember what I remember, and that  is the thousands who came here on a volunteer basis to provide food for the hungry and to help find shelter for those who had no home to live in.  There are people all around our country who prayed for you, many of whom showed up so they could say they helped a fellow citizen who was hurting.

One of the groups that stepped forward to serve were the educators of New Orleans.  At a time when it would have been easy to walk away from the wreckage, the educators here today thought of the children who would be left behind.  You understood that bringing New Orleans back to life required getting students back to school.  And even though some of the educators had lost almost everything you owned, you let nothing stand in your way.  Today, we celebrate the resurgence of New Orleans schools – and we honor the resilience of a great American city whose levees gave out but whose people never gave up.

Out of the devastation of Katrina, you vowed to do more than just open the schools.  You vowed to challenge the status quo.  Long before the great flood, too many students in this city drifted from grade to grade without ever learning the skills needed for success.  Parents lacked choices and the power to intervene.  Principals and teachers lacked the authority to chart a more hopeful course.  It was a system that stranded more than sixty percent of students failing in schools.  It was what I called the soft bigotry of low expectations.

The decisions you made in the dark hours after Katrina sparked a decade of reform.  Rather than just reopen the schools, you reorganized many into charter schools that are independently operated but publicly accountable for achieving high standards.  More than nine in ten public school students in this city now call a charter school home.  Administrators at these schools have the freedom to slice through red tape and the freedom to innovate.  Parents at these schools have choices if dissatisfied.  And the results at these schools have been extraordinary.  The reason we know is because we measure, and any attempt to undermine accountability our school system is a huge disservice to the students who go to the schools in New Orleans.  (Applause.)

According to a new report by the Cowen Institute, the percentage of New Orleans’ students graduating on time has soared since Katrina.  The percentage of students who attend schools that score better than the state average almost doubled.  And so has the percentage of students meeting basic standards.  You’ve got to ask, why?  It just didn’t happen.  A lot of it’s structural, and a lot of it requires strong leadership – people who stared into the eye of a storm and who refused to back down.  And so Laura and I are here in New Orleans to remind our country about what strong leadership means, and we’re here to salute the leaders.

I think of Jenny Rious here at Warren Easton.  After Katrina, Jenny was forced to leave New Orleans; she started Warren Easton in Exile. The site reunited students scattered across the country around a vision for returning to New Orleans, and reopening this school.  When Jenny returned to New Orleans, the first place she went was not her house.  It was this school.  And as she put it, “I would rather see my own house burn down than this school.”  Jenny would give anything for Easton – and today, we give teachers like her our sincere thanks.  (Applause.)

It’s amazing what happened in this city after a storm wiped out the school system.  Educational entrepreneurs decided to do something about the devastation, and the failure.  I met a lot of them when I was President, and subsequently.  Neerav Kingsland is one such person.  After Katrina, Neerav took a leadership role at an organization called New Schools for New Orleans, where he worked with others to help launch dozens of new schools and to turn ideas for reform into reality.  In other words, this isn’t just a theoretical exercise.  It’s important for people for our country to look at New Orleans and realize this is an exercise in implementing a plan which works.

Neerav was so encouraged by what he saw here, he was talking up the reforms that worked in New Orleans to other cities across the country.  Isn’t that amazing – the storm nearly destroys New Orleans, now New Orleans is a beacon for school reform. (Applause.) Neerav represents the virtues that Bill Clinton and I had in mind when we announced the new Presidential Leadership Scholars program – and we are honored that Neerav was among the first class of scholars.

Achieving these results took librarians who salvaged their collections from the watery wreckage.  Listen, I know something about librarians.  (Laughter.)  I married one.  (Laughter.)  I’m really proud of the Laura Bush Foundation.  She talked about the grants; she talked about Pam and Marshall.  These are citizens who supported this Foundation who, like many around the country, they care deeply about the future of this city.  I hope the students here – and I’m really thrilled you’re here by the way, thank you for staying awake (laughter) – I hope you realize the compassion of others in helping you realize a good education.

It turns out that every good school that’s succeeding – and we know it’s succeeding, because we measure against other standards – requires strong principals.  And there’s no doubt that Lexi Medley is a strong leader.  (Applause.)  I love when she says, “If you fail, we fail.  The student is our product.  We don’t believe in putting out anything but the best.”  In order to succeed, in order to lead properly, you’ve got to set high goals and high expectations.  And that’s what Lexi and this school have done.  As you heard, this school has graduated 100 percent of its seniors for the past five years.  (Applause.)  Lexi, you’ve earned our admiration and our gratitude, along with our best wishes for a happy birthday tomorrow.  (Laughter and Applause.)

In the stories of schools like yours, we see a determination to rebuild better than before.  It’s a spirit much stronger than any storm.  It’s a spirit that has lifted communities laid low by tornadoes or terrorist attacks.  It’s a spirit that I saw in New Orleans ten years ago, and that is very evident today.

We see that spirit in a population that has ticked back up as families settle back down.  We see it in tourists who are drawn not only by this city’s rich heritage but by the new hotel rooms and restaurants.  And we see that spirit in Lauren LeDuff.  As Lauren mentioned, Laura and I first met her in 2006 when she was a senior at Easton.  She was happy to be back at the school she loved at the time – and you know what she told me?  She said, “I want to be a teacher.”  And here she is as a member of this faculty, teaching English.  I probably needed her when I was in high school.   (Laughter.)  When asked how students have overcome adversity, Lauren says, “We teach our kids to be resilient.  That’s in the culture of the city.”

Lauren is right.  The resilience you teach at Warren Easton is the same resilience that this city showed the world in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  On this anniversary, the work of making a stronger and more hopeful New Orleans goes on.  We have achieved a lot over the past ten years.  And with belief in success and a faith in God, New Orleans will achieve even more.  The darkness from a decade ago has lifted.  The Crescent City has risen again.  And its best days lie ahead.   Thank you for having me.  (Applause.)

END

Full Text Obama Presidency August 27, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Ten Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Source: WH, 8-27-15

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON THE TEN-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF HURRICANE KATRINA
Andrew Sanchez Community Center
New Orleans, Louisiana
4:00 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Everybody, have a seat.  Hello, everybody!  Where y’at?  It is good to be back in the Big Easy.  And this is the weather in August all the time, right?  (Laughter.)  As soon as I land in New Orleans, the first thing I do is get hungry.  When I was here with the family a few years ago, I had a shrimp po-boy at Parkway Bakery and Tavern.  I still remember it — that’s how good it was.  And one day, after I leave office, maybe I’ll finally hear Rebirth at the Maple Leaf on Tuesday night.  (Applause.)  I’ll get a chance to “see the Mardi Gras,” and somebody will tell me what’s Carnival for.  (Laughter.)  But right now, I just go to meetings.

I want to thank Michelle for the introduction and, more importantly, for the great work she’s doing, what she symbolizes, and what she represents in terms of the city bouncing back.  I want to acknowledge a great friend and somebody who has been working tirelessly on behalf of this city, and he’s following a family legacy of service — your mayor, Mitch Landrieu.  (Applause.)  Proud of him.  And his beautiful wife, Cheryl.  Senator Bill Cassidy is here.  Where did Senator Cassidy go?  There he is.  (Applause.)  Congressman Cedric Richmond.  (Applause.)  Where’s the Congressman?  There he is over there.  We’ve got a lifelong champion of Louisiana in your former senator, Mary Landrieu in the house.  Mary!  (Applause.)  I want to acknowledge a great supporter to the efforts to recover and rebuild, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries from New York, who has traveled down here with us.  (Applause.)

To all the elected officials from Louisiana and Mississippi who are here today, thank you so much for your reception.

I’m here to talk about a specific recovery.  But before I begin to talk just about New Orleans, I want to talk about America’s recovery, take a little moment of presidential privilege to talk about what’s been happening in our economy.    This morning, we learned that our economy grew at a stronger and more robust clip back in the spring than anybody knew at the time.  The data always lags.  We already knew that over the past five and a half years, our businesses have created 13 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  These new numbers that came out, showing that the economy was growing at a 3.7 percent clip, means that the United States of America remains an anchor of global strength and stability in the world — that we have recovered faster, more steadily, stronger than just about any economy after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

And it’s important for us to remember that strength.  It’s been a volatile few weeks around the world.  And there’s been a lot of reports in the news, and the stock market swinging, and worries about China and about Europe.  But the United States of America, for all the challenges that we still have, continue to have the best cards.  We just got to play them right.

Our economy has been moving, and continues to grow.  And unemployment continues to come down.  And our work is not yet done, but we have to have that sense of steadiness and vision and purpose in order to sustain this recovery so that it reaches everybody and not just some.  It’s why we need to do everything we can in government to make sure our economy keeps growing.  That requires Congress to protect our momentum — not kill it.  Congress is about to come back from a six-week recess.  The deadline to fund the government is, as always, the end of September.  And so I want everybody just to understand that Congress has about a month to pass a budget that helps our economy grow.  Otherwise, we risk shutting down the government and services that we all count on for the second time in two years.  That would not be responsible.  It does not have to happen.

Congress needs to fund America in a way that invests in our growth and our security, and not cuts us off at the knees by locking in mindless austerity or shortsighted sequester cuts to our economy or our military.  I’ve said I will veto a budget like that.  I think most Americans agree we’ve got to invest in, rather than cut, things like military readiness, infrastructure, schools, public health, the research and development that keeps our companies on the cutting edge.

That’s what great nations do.  (Applause.)  That’s what great nations do.  And you know, eventually, we’re going to do it anyway, so let’s just do it without too much drama.  (Laughter.)  Let’s do it without another round of threats to shut down the government.  (Applause.)  Let’s not introduce unrelated partisan issues.  Nobody gets to hold the American economy hostage over their own ideological demands.  You, the people who send us to Washington, expect better.  Am I correct?  (Applause.)

So my message to Congress is:  Pass a budget.  Prevent a shutdown.  Don’t wait until the last minute.  Don’t worry our businesses or our workers by contributing unnecessarily to global uncertainty.  Get it done, and keep the United States of America the anchor of global strength that we are and always should be.

Now, that’s a process of national recovery that from coast to coast we’ve been going through.  But there’s been a specific process of recovery that is perhaps unique in my lifetime, right here in the state of Louisiana, right here in New Orleans.  (Applause.)

Not long ago, our gathering here in the Lower 9 probably would have seemed unlikely.  As I was flying here today with a homegirl from Louisiana, Donna Brazile, she was — she saved all the magazines, and she was whipping them out, and one of them was a picture of the Lower 9th right after the storm had happened.  And the notion that there would be anything left seemed unimaginable at the time.

Today, this new community center stands as a symbol of the extraordinary resilience of this city, the extraordinary resilience of its people, the extraordinary resilience of the entire Gulf Coast and of the United States of America.  You are an example of what is possible when, in the face of tragedy and in the face of hardship, good people come together to lend a hand, and, brick by brick, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, you build a better future.

And that, more than any other reason, is why I’ve come back here today — plus, Mitch Landrieu asked me to.  (Laughter.)  It’s been 10 years since Katrina hit, devastating communities in Louisiana and Mississippi, across the Gulf Coast.  In the days following its landfall, more than 1,800 of our fellow citizens — men, women and children — lost their lives.  Some folks in this room may have lost a loved one in that storm.

Thousands of people saw their homes destroyed, livelihoods wiped out, hopes and dreams shattered.  Many scattered in exodus to cities across the country, and too many still haven’t returned.  Those who stayed and lived through that epic struggle still feel the trauma sometimes of what happened.  As one woman from Gentilly recently wrote me, “A deep part of the whole story is the grief.”  So there’s grief then and there’s still some grief in our hearts.

Here in New Orleans, a city that embodies a celebration of life, suddenly seemed devoid of life.  A place once defined by color and sound — the second line down the street, the crawfish boils in backyards, the music always in the air — suddenly it was dark and silent.  And the world watched in horror.  We saw those rising waters drown the iconic streets of New Orleans.  Families stranded on rooftops.  Bodies in the streets.  Children crying, crowded in the Superdome.  An American city dark and under water.

And this was something that was supposed to never happen here — maybe somewhere else.  But not here, not in America.  And we came to realize that what started out as a natural disaster became a manmade disaster — a failure of government to look out for its own citizens.  And the storm laid bare a deeper tragedy that had been brewing for decades because we came to understand that New Orleans, like so many cities and communities across the country, had for too long been plagued by structural inequalities that left too many people, especially poor people, especially people of color, without good jobs or affordable health care or decent housing.  Too many kids grew up surrounded by violent crime, cycling through substandard schools where few had a shot to break out of poverty.  And so like a body weakened already, undernourished already, when the storm hit, there was no resources to fall back on.

Shortly after I visited — shortly after the storm, I visited with folks not here because we couldn’t distract local recover efforts.  Instead, I visited folks in a shelter in Houston — many who had been displaced.  And one woman told me, “We had nothing before the hurricane.  And now we have less than nothing.”  We had nothing before the hurricane — now we had less than nothing.

And we acknowledge this loss, and this pain, not to dwell on the past, not to wallow in grief; we do it to fortify our commitment and to bolster our hope, to understand what it is that we’ve learned, and how far we’ve come.

Because this is a city that slowly, unmistakably, together, is moving forward.  Because the project of rebuilding here wasn’t just to restore the city as it had been.  It was to build a city as it should be — a city where everyone, no matter what they look like, how much money they’ve got, where they come from, where they’re born has a chance to make it.  (Applause.)

And I’m here to say that on that larger project of a better, stronger, more just New Orleans, the progress that you have made is remarkable.   The progress you’ve made is remarkable.  (Applause.)

That’s not to say things are perfect.  Mitch would be the first one to say that.  We know that African Americans and folks in hard-hit parishes like Plaquemines and St. Bernard are less likely to feel like they’ve recovered.  Certainly we know violence still scars the lives of too many youth in this city.  As hard as rebuilding levees are, as hard as —

PARTICIPANT:  (Inaudible) mental health.

THE PRESIDENT:  I agree with that.  But I’ll get to that.  Thank you, ma’am.

As hard as rebuilding levees is, as hard as rebuilding housing is, real change — real lasting, structural change — that’s even harder.  And it takes courage to experiment with new ideas and change the old ways of doing things.  That’s hard.  Getting it right, and making sure that everybody is included and everybody has a fair shot at success — that takes time.  That’s not unique to New Orleans.  We’ve got those challenges all across the country.

But I’m here to say, I’m here to hold up a mirror and say because of you, the people of New Orleans, working together, this city is moving in the right direction.  And I have never been more confident that together we will get to where we need to go.  You inspire me.  (Applause.)

Your efforts inspire me.  And no matter how hard it’s been and how hard and how long the road ahead might seem, you’re working and building and striving for a better tomorrow.  I see evidence of it all across this city.  And, by the way, along the way, the people of New Orleans didn’t just inspire me, you inspired all of America.  Folks have been watching what’s happened here, and they’ve seen a reflection of the very best of the American spirit.

As President, I’ve been proud to be your partner.  Across the board, I’ve made the recovery and rebuilding of the Gulf Coast a priority.  I made promises when I was a senator that I’d help.  And I’ve kept those promises.  (Applause.)

We’re cutting red tape to help you build back even stronger.  We’re taking the lessons we’ve learned here, we’ve applied them across the country, including places like New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy.

If Katrina was initially an example of what happens when government fails, the recovery has been an example of what’s possible when government works together — (applause) — state and local, community — everybody working together as true partners.

Together, we’ve delivered resources to help Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida rebuild schools and hospitals, roads, police and fire stations, restore historic buildings and museums.  And we’re building smarter, doing everything from elevating homes to retrofitting buildings to improving drainage, so that our communities are better prepared for the next storm.

Working together, we’ve transformed education in this city.  Before the storm, New Orleans public schools were largely broken, leaving generations of low-income kids without a decent education.  Today, thanks to parents and educators, school leaders, nonprofits, we’re seeing real gains in achievement, with new schools, more resources to retain and develop and support great teachers and principals.  We have data that shows before the storm, the high school graduation rate was 54 percent.  Today, it’s up to 73 percent.  (Applause.)  Before the storm, college enrollment was 37 percent.  Today, it’s almost 60 percent.  (Applause.)  We still have a long way to go, but that is real progress.  New Orleans is coming back better and stronger.

Working together, we’re providing housing assistance to more families today than before the storm, with new apartments and housing vouchers.  And we will keep working until everybody who wants to come home can come home.  (Applause.)

Together, we’re building a New Orleans that is as entrepreneurial as any place in the country, with a focus on expanding job opportunities and making sure that more people benefit from a growing economy here.  We’re creating jobs to rebuild the city’s transportation infrastructure, expanding training programs for industries like high-tech manufacturing, but also water management, because we’ve been building some good water management around here and we want to make sure everybody has access to those good, well-paying jobs.  Small businesses like Michelle’s are growing.  It’s small businesses like hers that are helping to fuel 65 straight months of private sector job growth in America.  That’s the longest streak in American history.  (Applause.)

Together, we’re doing more to make sure that everyone in this city has access to great health care.  More folks have access to primary care at neighborhood clinics so that they can get the preventive care that they need.  We’re building a brand new VA Medical Center downtown, alongside a thriving biosciences corridor that’s attracting new jobs and investment.  We are working to make sure that we have additional mental health facilities across the city and across the country, and more people have access to quality, affordable health care –- some of the more than 16 million Americans who have gained health insurance over the past few years.  (Applause.)

All of this progress is the result of the commitment and drive of the people of this region.  I saw that spirit today.  Mitch and I started walking around a little bit.  Such a nice day outside.  And we went to Faubourg Lafitte, we were in Tremé, and we saw returning residents living in brand new homes, mixed income — new homes near schools and clinics and parks, child care centers; more opportunities for working families.

We saw that spirit today at Willie Mae’s Scotch House.  After Katrina had destroyed that legendary restaurant, some of the best chefs from the country decided America could not afford to lose such an important place.  So they came down here to help — helped rebuild.  And I just sampled some of her fried chicken.  (Laughter.)  It was really good.  (Laughter.)  Although I did get a grease spot on my suit.  (Laughter.)  But that’s okay.  If you come to New Orleans and you don’t have a grease spot somewhere — (applause) — then you didn’t enjoy the city.  Just glad I didn’t get it on my tie.  (Laughter.)

 

 

We all just heard that spirit of New Orleans in the remarkable young people from Roots of Music.  (Applause.)  When the storm washed away a lot of middle school music programs, Roots of Music helped fill that gap.  And today, it’s building the next generation of musical talent — the next Irma Thomas, or the next Trombone Shorty, or the next Dr. John.  (Applause.)  There’s a Marsalis kid in here somewhere.  How you doing?

 

And I saw it in the wonderful young men I met earlier who are part of “NOLA for Life,” which is focused on reducing the number of murders in the city of New Orleans.  (Applause.)  This is a program that works with the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative to make sure that all young people, and particularly our boys and young men of color who so disproportionately are impacted by crime and violence, have the opportunity to fulfill their full potential.

In fact, after the storm, this city became a laboratory for urban innovation across the board.  And we’ve been tackling with you, as a partner, all sorts of major challenges — fighting poverty, supporting our homeless veterans.  And as a result, New Orleans has become a model for the nation as the first city, the first major city to end veterans’ homelessness — (applause) — which is a remarkable achievement.

You’re also becoming a model for the nation when it comes to disaster response and resilience.  We learned lessons from Katrina.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developed stricter standards, more advanced techniques for levees.  Here in Louisiana, we built a $14 billion system of improved levees and pump stations and gates — a system that stood the test of Hurricane Isaac.

We’ve revamped FEMA — and I just have to say, by the way, there’s a man named Craig Fugate who runs FEMA — (applause) — and has been doing extraordinary work, and his team, all across the country, every time there’s a disaster.  I love me some Craig Fugate.  (Laughter.)  Although it’s a little disturbing — he gets excited when there are disasters — (laughter) — because he gets restless if everything is just quiet.  But under his leadership, we’ve revamped FEMA into a stronger, more efficient agency.  In fact, the whole federal government has gotten smarter at preventing and recovering from disasters, and serving as a better partner to local and state governments.

And as I’ll talk about next week, when I visit Alaska, making our communities more resilient is going to be increasingly important, because we’re going to see more extreme weather events as the result of climate change — deeper droughts, deadlier wildfires, stronger storms.  That’s why, in addition to things like new and better levees, we’ve also been investing in restoring wetlands and other natural systems that are just as critical for storm protection.

So we’ve made a lot of progress over the past 10 years. You’ve made a lot of progress.  That gives us hope.  But it doesn’t allow for complacency.  It doesn’t mean we can rest.  Our work here won’t be done when almost 40 percent of children still live in poverty in this city.  That’s not a finished job.  That’s not a full recovery.  Our work won’t be done when a typical black household earns half the income of white households in this city.  The work is not done yet.  (Applause.)

Our work is not done when there’s still too many people who have yet to find good, affordable housing, and too many people — especially African American men — who can’t find a job.  Not when there are still too many people who haven’t been able to come back home; folks who, around the country, every day, live the words sung by Louis Armstrong, “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?”

But the thing is, the people of New Orleans, there’s something in you guys that is just irrepressible.  You guys have a way of making a way out of no way.  (Applause.)  You know the sun comes out after every storm.  You’ve got hope — especially your young people reflect hope — young people like Victor York-Carter.  Where’s Victor?  Victor York-Carter.  Stand up, Victor.  I was just talking to Victor.  I had some lunch with him.  He’s this fine young man that I just met with.  (Applause.)  Stand up — everybody.  See, these are the guys who I ate chicken with.  (Applause.)  Really impressive — have overcome more than their fair share of challenges, but are still focused on the future.  Yes, sit down.  I don’t want you to start getting embarrassed.  (Laughter.)

So I’ll just give you one example.  Victor grew up in the 8th Ward.  Gifted art student, loved math.  He was 13 when Katrina hit.  And he remembers waking up to what looked like something out of a disaster movie.  He and his family waded across the city, towing his younger brother in a trash can to keep him afloat.

They were eventually evacuated to Texas.  Six months later, they returned, and the city was almost unrecognizable.  Victor saw his peers struggling to cope, many of them still traumatized, their lives still disordered.  So he joined an organization called Rethink to help young people get more involved in rebuilding New Orleans.  And recently, he finished a coding bootcamp at Operation Spark; today, he’s studying to earn a high-tech job.  He wants to introduce more young people to science and technology and civics so that they have the tools to change the world.

And so Victor and these young men that I just met with, they’ve overcome extraordinary odds.  They’ve lived through more than most of us will ever have to endure.  (Applause.)  They’ve made some mistakes along the way.  But for all that they’ve been through, they have been just as determined to improve their own lives, to take responsibility for themselves, but also to try to see if they can help others along the way.

So when I talk to young men like that, that gives me hope.  It’s still hard.  I told them they can’t get down on themselves.  Tough stuff will happen along the way.  But if they’ve come this far, they can keep on going.  (Applause.)

And Americans like you — the people of New Orleans, young men like this — you’re what recovery has been all about.  You’re why I’m confident that we can recover from crisis and start to move forward.  You’ve helped this country recover from a crisis and helped it move forward.  You’re the reason 13 million new jobs have been created.  You’re the reason the unemployment rate fell from 10 percent to 5.3.  You’re the reason that layoffs are near an all-time low.  You’re the reason the uninsured rate is at an all-time low and the high school graduation rate is at an all-time high, and the deficit has been cut by two-thirds, and two wars are over.  (Applause.)  And nearly 180,000 American troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have now gone down to 15,000.  And a clean energy revolution is helping to save this planet.

You’re the reason why justice has expanded and now we’re focused on making sure that everybody is treated fairly under the law, and why people have the freedom to marry whoever they love from sea to shining sea.  (Applause.)

I tell you, we’re moving into the next presidential cycle and the next political season, and you will hear a lot of people telling you everything that’s wrong with America.  And that’s okay.  That’s a proper part of our democracy.  One of the things about America is we’re never satisfied.  We keep pushing forward.   We keep asking questions.  We keep challenging our government.  We keep challenging our leaders.  We keep looking for the next set of challenges to tackle.  We find what’s wrong because we have confidence that we can fix it.

But it’s important that we remember what’s right, and what’s good, and what’s hopeful about this country.  It’s worth remembering that for all the tragedy, for the all images of Katrina in those first few days, in those first few months, look at what’s happened here.  It’s worth remembering the thousands of Americans like Michelle, and Victor, and Mrs. Willie Mae and the folks who rallied around her — Americans all across this country who when they saw neighbors and friends or strangers in need came to help.  And people who today still spend their time every day helping others — rolling up their sleeves, doing the hard work of changing this country without the need for credit or the need for glory; don’t get their name in the papers, don’t see their day in the sun, do it because it’s right.

These Americans live the basic values that define this country — the value we’ve been reminded of in these past 10 years as we’ve come back from a crisis that changed this city, and an economic crisis that spread throughout the nation — the basic notion that I am my brother’s keeper, and I am my sister’s keeper, and that we look out for each other and that we’re all in this together.

That’s the story of New Orleans — but that’s also the story of America — a city that, for almost 300 years, has been the gateway to America’s soul.  Where the jazz makes you cry, the funerals make you dance — (laughter) — the bayou makes you believe all kinds of things.  (Laughter.)  A place that has always brought together people of all races and religions and languages.  And everybody adds their culture and their flavor into this city’s gumbo.  You remind our nation that for all of our differences, in the end, what matters is we’re all in the same boat.  We all share a similar destiny.

If we stay focused on that common purpose, if we remember our responsibility to ourselves but also our responsibilities and obligations to one another, we will not just rebuild this city, we will rebuild this country.  We’ll make sure not just these young men, but every child in America has a structure and support and love and the kind of nurturing that they need to succeed.  We’ll leave behind a city and a nation that’s worthy of generations to come.

That’s what you’ve gotten started.  Now we got to finish the job.

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

4:36 P.M. CDT

 

Full Text Obama Presidency April 22, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Mudslide Devastation in Washington State

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President on the Mudslide Devastation in Washington State

Source: WH, 4-22-14

Oso Firehouse
Oso, Washington

4:13 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, good afternoon, everybody.  I just had a chance to tour some of the damage from last month’s mudslide.  And, most importantly, I had a chance to spend some time with the families whose loved ones have been lost.  I also had a chance to thank some of the amazing first responders, the firefighters, police officers, search and rescue crews, and members of the Washington National Guard who have been working around the clock to help this community recover from this devastating incident.

Governor Inslee, Senator Murray, Senator Cantwell, Congresswoman DelBene, Congressman Larsen, and the rest of the elected officials who are here, they’ve been relentless in making sure that Oso had the resources that it needs.  And from the day of the tragedy, I’ve instructed my team to make sure that they get what they need to make sure that the search and rescue mission is going forward the way it should.

A FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team was on the ground immediately after the mudslide, and a search and rescue team was deployed to help locate and recover victims.  We immediately approved an emergency declaration to provide additional resources to state and local responders.  And I followed that by approving a major disaster declaration to help residents and business owners rebuild, and to help state and local and tribal governments with emergency work.

Today, that work continues.  There are still families who are searching for loved ones.  There are families who have lost everything, and it’s going to be a difficult road ahead for them.  And that’s why I wanted to come here — just to let you know that the country is thinking about all of you and have been throughout this tragedy.

We’re not going anywhere.  We’ll be here as long as it takes.  Because while very few Americans have ever heard of Oso before the disaster struck, we’ve all been inspired by the incredible way that the community has come together and shown the love and support that they have for each other in ways large and small.

Over the past month, we’ve seen neighbors and complete strangers donate everything from chainsaws to rain jackets to help with the recovery effort.  We’ve seen families cook meals for rescue workers.  We’ve seen volunteers pull 15-hour days, searching through mud up to 70 feet deep.  One resident said, “We’re Oso.  We just do it.”  That’s what this community is all about.  And I think the outstanding work of Sheriff Willy Harper here helping to coordinate all of this — I was saying, he’s a pretty young sheriff, but he has shouldered this burden in an incredible way.  And we’re very, very proud of him, as we are of all the local responders.

This is family.  And these are folks who love this land, and it’s easy to see why — because it’s gorgeous.  And there’s a way of life here that’s represented.  And to see the strength in adversity of this community I think should inspire all of us, because this is also what America is all about.

When times get tough, we look out for each other.  We get each other’s backs.  And we recover and we build, and we come back stronger.  And we’re always reminded that we’re greater together.  That’s how we’ll support each other every step of the way.

I have to say that the families that I met with showed incredible strength and grace through unimaginable pain and difficulty.  Uniformly, though, they all wanted to say thank you to the first responders.  They were deeply appreciative of the efforts that everybody has made.  And I know that many of the first responders have heard that directly, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat that we’re very appreciative of what you’ve done.

And I also want to say that some terrific lessons were learned in the midst of very hard times during this process, because almost uniquely, we had not just coordination between state, local and federal officials, but also coordination between volunteers and those officials.  And I know that it required some improvisation and some kinks getting worked out, but it was important for the family members themselves and the community themselves to be hands-on and participate in this process — particularly a community like this one where folks are hearty and know how to do things, and take great pride in being self-reliant.  It was important that they weren’t just bystanders in this process, they were involved every step of the way.

One last point I’ll make.  I’ve received a number of letters from residents — either Darrington, or Arlington, or Oso itself — over the last several weeks, and one in particular struck me.  It was from a firefighter who I may have met today; he didn’t identify himself.  But he pointed out how those who were operating the heavy machinery during this whole process did so with an incredible care and delicacy because they understood that this wasn’t an ordinary job, this wasn’t just a matter of moving earth; that this was a matter of making sure that we were honoring and respecting the lives that had been impacted.

And two things were of note in that letter:  Number one, that this firefighter pointed out properly the incredible work that’s been done under very tough circumstances.  Number two, he was pointing out what others were doing, not what he was doing.  And to see a community come together like this and not be interested in who’s getting credit, but just making sure that the job gets done, that says a lot about the character of this place.

And so we’re very, very proud of all of you.  Michelle and I grieve with you.  The whole country is thinking about you.  And we’re going to make sure that we’re there every step of the way as we go through the grieving, the mourning, the recovery.  We’re going to be strong right alongside you.

Thank you very much.  God bless you.  God bless America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
4:21 P.M. PDT

Political Musings February 14, 2014: Obama and Congress have a Washington snow day

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama and Congress have a Washington snow day

By Bonnie K. Goodman

As snow blanketed the Washington DC area on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 Congress and the White House came almost to a standstill, cancelling most events, work, a traditional snow day. Over 10 inches of snow fell in the capitol region…

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Full Text Obama Presidency May 28, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech in Asbury Park, NJ After Touring the Jersey Shore with Gov Chris Christie

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama congratulates New Jersey Governor Chris Christie while playing the “TouchDown Fever” arcade game along the Point Pleasant boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., May 28, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Remarks by the President in Asbury Park, NJ

Source: WH, 5-28-13 

Asbury Park Convention Hall
Asbury Park, New Jersey

1:26 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, New Jersey!  (Applause.)  It is good to be back in Jersey.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back!  (Applause.)

Let me, first of all, say thank you to Governor Christie for that introduction and the great work he’s done here.  (Applause.) Your Mayor, Ed Johnson, is here as well and has been working tirelessly on your behalf.  (Applause.)  We’ve got three great representatives in Congress from New Jersey — Rush Holt, Frank Pallone, Donald Payne, Jr.  (Applause.)

Now, last week, my advisors asked me — they said, Mr. President, do you want to spend next Tuesday in Washington, or would you rather spend it at the Jersey Shore?  (Applause.)  And I’ve got to say I’ve got to make some tough decisions as President, but this wasn’t one of them.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I appreciate that.  (Applause.)

Governor Christie and I just spent some time on the Point Pleasant boardwalk.  I got a chance to see the world’s tallest sandcastle being built.  We played some Touchdown Fever — I got to say, Christie got it in the tire the first try — (laughter)  — although I did pay for his throws.  (Laughter.)  I played a little Frog Bog, and Governor Christie’s kids taught me the right technique for hitting the hammer to get those frogs in the buckets the way I was supposed to.  (Laughter.)  And, of course, I met with folks who are still rebuilding after Sandy.

Now, we all understand there’s still a lot of work to be done.  There are homes to rebuild.  There are businesses to reopen.  There are landmarks and beaches and boardwalks that aren’t all the way back yet.  But thanks to the hard work of an awful lot of people, we’ve got wonderful shops and restaurants and arcades that are opening their doors.  And I saw what thousands of Americans saw over Memorial Day Weekend:  You are stronger than the storm.  (Applause.)  After all you’ve dealt with, after all you’ve been through, the Jersey Shore is back and it is open for business, and they want all Americans to know that they’re ready to welcome you here.  (Applause.)

And I’ve got to say, if they ever let me have any fun, I’d have some fun here.  (Laughter and applause.)  I was telling my staff on the ride over, I could see being a little younger — (laughter) — and having some fun on the Jersey Shore.  (Applause.)  I can’t do that anymore.  (Laughter.)  Maybe after I leave office.  (Laughter and applause.)

I think a friend of mine from here once put it pretty well:  “Down the shore, everything’s all right.”  (Applause.)  He’s the only guy a President still has to call “The Boss.”  (Laughter.)  Other than the First Lady.  (Laughter.)

But for generations, that’s what this place has been about. Life isn’t always easy.  We’re a people who have to work hard and do what it takes to provide for our families — but when you come here, everything’s all right.  And whether you spend a lifetime here, or a weekend, or a summer, the Shore holds a special place in your heart and a special place in America’s mythology, America’s memory.

When I was here seven months ago, Hurricane Sandy had just hammered communities all across the East Coast, and lives were lost, and homes and businesses were destroyed, and folks were hurting.  And I remember something Chris said back then.  He said, “We cannot permit that sorrow to replace the resilience that I know all New Jerseyans have.”

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Yes, we do!

THE PRESIDENT:  And it didn’t.  You didn’t let it.  You kept going.  Because these towns have a special character — not just in the summer but all year round.  From the moment the hurricane hit, first responders worked around the clock to save lives and property.  And neighbors opened their homes and their hearts to one another.  And you came together as citizens to rebuild.

And we’re not done yet, and I want to make sure everybody understands that, because for somebody who hasn’t seen their home rebuilt yet or is still trying to get their business up and running again, after all those losses, we don’t want them to think that somehow we’ve checked a box and we’ve moved on.  That’s part of the reason I came back, to let people know we’re going to keep on going until we finish.  (Applause.)

But if anybody wondered whether the Shore could ever be all right again, you got your answer this weekend.  (Applause.)  From Sea Bright to Bay Head, from Belmar to Seaside Heights, folks were hanging out on balconies and beaches.  Shows were sold out at the Stone Pony.  (Applause.)  Kids were eating ice cream and going on rides, going and eating some more ice cream.  (Laughter.)  Guys were trying to win those big stuffed animals to impress a special girl.  So like I said, the Jersey Shore is back in business.

The work is not over, though.  Seven months ago, I promised you that your country would have your back.  I told you we would not quit until the job was done, and I meant it.  I meant it.  (Applause.)

Craig Fugate, the head of FEMA, he couldn’t be here today, but I want to thank him and his team for their ongoing work.  FEMA was here before Sandy made landfall; they’re still here today.  They’re working with the Governor’s team and with the task force I set up to support families and communities who still need help.  Since the storm hit, we’ve provided billions of dollars to families and state and local governments across the region, and more is on the way.

And even as my team is helping communities recover from the last hurricane season, they’re already starting to prepare for the next hurricane season, which starts this Saturday — because if there’s one thing that we learned last year, it’s that when a storm hits, we’ve got to be ready.  Education, preparation — that’s what makes a difference.  That’s what saves lives.  And anyone who wants to make sure they’re ready — for a hurricane or any other disaster — I want them to visit something — a website called Ready.gov.  Make a plan.  It’s never too early.

We’ve also got to remember that rebuilding efforts like these aren’t measured in weeks or months, but they’re measured in years.  That’s why just this past Thursday, we announced billions of new relief aid for New York and New Jersey transit agencies.  And that’s why the Army Corps of Engineers is working to restore beaches and strengthen the Shore’s natural defenses.  That’s why last year I joined Governor Christie and your representatives, fighting to get a relief package through Congress.  We’re going to keep doing what it takes to rebuild all the way and make it better than it was before, make it stronger than it was before, make it more resilient than it was before.  (Applause.)

So, Jersey, you’ve still got a long road ahead, but when you look out on this beach — this beautiful beach here, even in the rain, it looks good.  You look out over the horizon, you can count on the fact that you won’t be alone.  Your fellow citizens will be there for you — just like we’ll be there for folks in Breezy Point and Staten Island — (applause) — and obviously, we’re going to be there for the folks in Monroe [sic], Oklahoma, after the devastation of last week.  (Applause.)

Part of the reason I wanted to come back here was not just to send a message to New Jersey, but send a message to folks in Oklahoma:  When we make a commitment that we’ve got your back, we mean it — (applause) — and we’re not going to finish until the work is done.  Because that’s who we are.  We help each other as Americans through the bad times, and we sure make the most of the good times.  (Applause.)

So let’s have some good times on the New Jersey Shore this summer.  (Applause.)  And next summer and the summer after that, and all year long, America, bring your family and friends.  Spend a little money on the Jersey Shore.  (Applause.)  You’ll find some of the friendliest folks on Earth, some of the best beaches on Earth.  And you’ll see that even after a tough couple of months, this place is as special as ever, and down the Shore, everything is still all right.  (Applause.)

Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  (Applause.)  God bless America.  (Applause.)

1:35 P.M. EDT
END

Political Headlines May 28, 2013: President Barack Obama & NJ Gov Chris Christie Tour Recovery Efforts at Jersey Shore

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama, Christie Tour Recovery Efforts at Jersey Shore

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-28-13

Office of NJ Gov. Chris Christie/Twitter

Seven months after superstorm Sandy hammered the New Jersey coast, President Obama returned to the Jersey Shore to highlight the state’s recovery and rebuilding efforts, declaring that the “Jersey Shore is back.”

“We’re still rebuilding after Sandy.  Now we all understand that there is still a lot of work to be done,” the president said Tuesday before a crowd of 3,800 at the Asbury Park Convention Hall in Asbury Park, N.J….READ MORE

Political Headlines May 26, 2013: President Barack Obama Tours Tornado Damage: Country Will Be ‘Shelter from the Storm’ for Oklahoma

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama: Country Will Be ‘Shelter from the Storm’ for Oklahoma

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-26-13

Oklahoma Cty Sheriff(MOORE, Okla.)

Standing in front of the rubble of Plaza Towers Elementary School, which was destroyed by last week’s tornado, President Obama offered words of support to the community of Moore, Okla., saying that people across this country will serve as a “shelter from the storm” for all those impacted by the deadly tornadoes.

“God has a plan, and it’s important to know that we also recognize we’re instruments of His will, and we need to know that as fellow Americans, we’re going to be there as shelter from the storm for the people of Moore,” the president said in Moore, Okla. at the site where seven students were killed by the tornado on Monday. “When we say we’ve got your backs, I promise you, we keep our word.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency May 26, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech After Touring the Tornado Damage in Moore, Oklahoma

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Tours Tornado Damage in Moore, Oklahoma: “We’ve Got Your Back”

Source: WH, 5-26-13

It was just one week ago that tornadoes tore through Oklahoma, devastating the town of Moore.

Today, President Obama traveled to the area — visiting Plaza Towers Elementary School to offer a nation’s condolences, and a promise to help Moore rebuild.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks along side what remains of Plaza Towers Elementary SchoolPresident Barack Obama delivers remarks along side what remains of Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma, May 26, 2013. Oklahoman Governor Mary Fallin, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, and local officials stand with him. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The President thanked Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Mayor Glenn Lewis of Moore for their quick, outstanding response, and praised other local officials instrumental in helping to save lives and jumpstart the town’s recovery efforts.

President Obama highlighted the everyday acts of heroism in Moore, thanking first responders and volunteers for embodying the “Oklahoma Standard”

President Barack Obama talks with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in MoorePresident Barack Obama talks with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, and local officials as he tours tornado damage along a block of Eagle Drive in Moore, Okla., May 26, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President closed by urging every American to step up and help the people of Oklahoma.

After visiting Plaza Towers, President Obama stopped by Moore Fire Department Station #1 to meet with first responders. The fire station has served as a command center throughout the disaster, first for search and rescue and now for survivor services.

President Barack Obama talks with first responders in MoorePresident Barack Obama talks with first responders and agency officials at Moore Fire Department Station #1 in Moore, Okla., May 26, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Ed. Note: You can help people affected by the recent tornadoes through American Red Cross Disaster Relief.

Remarks by the President After Touring the Tornado Damage in Oklahoma

Source: WH, 5-26-13 

Moore, Oklahoma

12:57 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Obviously, a picture is worth a thousand words, and what we’re seeing here I think gives you some sense of what the people of Moore and the people of Oklahoma have been dealing with over these last several days.

There are a couple of acknowledgements that I want to make, but let me begin by just saying that whenever I come to an area that’s been devastated by some natural disaster like this, I want to make sure everybody understands I’m speaking on behalf of the entire country.  Everywhere, fellow Americans are praying with you, they’re thinking about you, and they want to help.

And so I’m just a messenger here today, letting everybody here know that you are not alone, that you’ve got folks behind you.

Obviously, the damage here is pretty hard to comprehend.  Our hearts go out to the families who have been impacted, including those who had loved ones who were lost.  And that was true for the parents of some of the children here at Plaza Towers Elementary School.

There are a number of people I want to especially thank, because they’ve engaged in some heroic efforts in dealing with this disaster.  First of all, Governor Mary Fallin, thank you so much for your quick response and your outstanding work.  Mayor Glenn Lewis, the mayor of Moore, who has been mayor here before, when there was a disaster, and because of his strong spirit and sense of community has been able to help lead the community through this disaster.  We very much appreciate your work.

Representative Tom Cole — not only is this his congressional district, but more importantly, this is his hometown.  And so for him, this carries a special sadness but also a resolve in terms of trying to make sure that the city of Moore bounces back.  Mayor Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City, a neighbor and friend — we appreciate him being here.  Craig Fugate is here, and obviously we are very proud of the work that he and his FEMA team have done.  Susie Pierce, superintendent of schools here — thank you for your leadership.

Amy Simpson — I want to especially commend Plaza Towers Elementary School principal, as well as Shelley McMillan, the Briarwood Elementary School principal.  They were on the ground when this happened, and because of their quick response, their keeping a level head, their putting kids first saved a lot of people.  And they’re still going through some tough times.  I can only imagine being their husbands, who are here, and the panic that I’m sure they were feeling when the tornado first struck.  But I know that they could not be prouder of their wives for the outstanding work that they did in this amazing situation.

I want to thank Chief of Police, Jerry Stillings, and all the first responders in this area who were some of the first folks on the scene who were putting themselves at risk to save other people’s lives.  That’s what first responders do — but sometimes we take them for granted, and it’s important we don’t and we remember moments like that.  That’s why it’s so important that we continually support them.

At my direction, Craig Fugate arrived here on Tuesday.  FEMA was on the ground even before Monday’s tornado hit.  And their teams have now completed searches of more than 1,200 buildings.  We’ve helped to register more than 4,200 people for disaster assistance, and we’ve approved more than $3.4 million in direct aid.  Obviously, there’s a lot more to come.  But it’s not just a government response.  We’ve seen incredible outpourings of support from churches, from community groups who are helping folks begin to recover.

This area has known more than its share of heartbreak.  But people here pride themselves on the “Oklahoma Standard” –- what Governor Fallin has called, “Being able to work through disasters like this, and [to] come out stronger on the other side.”  And that’s what we’ve been seeing this week.

From the forecasters who issued the warnings, to the first responders who dug through the rubble, to the teachers who shielded with their own bodies their students, Oklahomans have inspired us with their love and their courage and their fellowship.

Neighbors have been offering up spare bedrooms and couches for those in need of shelter.  Universities have opened up their buildings for temporary housing.  And local companies have pitched in.

This is a strong community with strong character.  There’s no doubt they’re going to bounce back.  But they need help — just like any of us would need help if we saw the kind of devastation that we’re seeing here.  We have about 1,200 homes that have been completely destroyed, but we’ve got 12,000 that have been damaged in one way or another, and that’s a big piece of business.  And along with the schools, we’ve got a hospital that has been destroyed.  It’s going to take a long time for this community to rebuild.

So I want to urge every American to step up.  If I’ve got one message for folks here today:  Go online, donate to the American Red Cross.  And if you’re from the area and you need to register for disaster assistance, you can call 1-800-621-FEMA.  That’s 1-800-621-FEMA.  Or you can go to disasterassistance.gov.  Disasterassistance.gov on the web.  Either way, I guarantee you, if you’ve got some significant damage and have been impacted, go ahead and reach out, and there are going to be professionals there who are ready and willing to provide you the assistance that you need.

We know Moore is going to come back stronger from this tragedy.  Your mayor said that you’re already printing new street signs.  And I want folks affected throughout Oklahoma to know that we’re going to be with you every step of the way.

On Sunday, the first deadly tornadoes touched down about 40 miles from here.  And I mentioned this the day afterwards — there was a story that really struck me in the press — in the rubble was found a Bible, open to the words that read:  “A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest.”  And it’s a reminder, as Scripture often is, that God has a plan, and it’s important, though, that we also recognize we’re an instrument of his will.  And we need to know that as fellow Americans, we’re going to be there as shelter from the storm for the people of Moore who have been impacted.

And when we say that we’ve got your back, I promise you, we keep our word.  If you talk to folks in Alabama who have been affected over the last couple of years; you talk to the folks at Joplin, who I know have actually sent volunteers down here to Moore; if you talk to folks in New Jersey and New York, they’ll tell you that when we say we’re going to be there until you completely rebuild, we mean it.  And I want everybody to have that confidence.

So, again, to all the people here behind me, I want to say how proud I am of them, how grateful I am for their service.  I want to make one final comment.  A lot of the first responders talked about the training they’ve done, in part through some federal grants, to prepare for disasters like this.  And, as a consequence, when it actually happens, they know what to do, they’re not losing time, they’re able to go through all the drills and the training that they’ve gone through.

Training, education, both for citizenry but also for first responders, is absolutely critical.  And we’ve got to make sure that those resources remain in place.  So I know everybody in Congress cares deeply about what’s happening, and I’m confident that resources will be forthcoming when it comes to rebuilding.  But remember that it’s also the ongoing training and equipment that we’re making sure that those things are in place.  We can’t shortchange that kind of ongoing disaster response.  We can’t just wait until the disaster happens.  That’s how, in part, we were able to save a lot of lives — and I want everybody to keep that in mind.

So with that, let me just, again, say thank you to everybody here.  Madam Governor, thank you for your leadership.  And may God bless the people of Oklahoma and obviously continue to bless the United States of America.

Thank you.

END 1:07 P.M. CDT

Political Headlines May 25, 2013: GOP Weekly Address: Sen Jim Inhofe Says Oklahoma ‘Hit Hard,’ But ‘Not Knocked Out’

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GOP Weekly Address: Oklahoma ‘Hit Hard,’ But ‘Not Knocked Out’

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-25-13

US Senate

In this week’s Republican address, Oklahoma’s senior senator, Jim Inhofe, speaks about the tornado that devastated Moore, Okla. this week.

Oklahoma has been hit hard, but we’re not knocked out,” Sen. Inhofe says in the address, delivered on location in Moore….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency May 21, 2013: President Barack Obama Responds to the Tornadoes & Severe Weather in Oklahoma

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Responds to the Tornadoes in Oklahoma

Source: WH, 5-21-13

Ed. Note: You can help people affected by the recent tornadoes through American Red Cross Disaster Relief. If you are in the affected areas, you can also register as “Safe and Well” to let your friends and family know you are okay. Check back here for more information — we’ll continue updating this post as the response effort develops.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the ongoing response to the devastating tornadoes and severe weatherPresident Barack Obama delivers remarks on the ongoing response to the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that impacted Oklahoma, in the State Dining Room of the White House, May 21, 2013. Vice President Joe Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino accompany the President. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

As response and recovery efforts continue on the ground in Oklahoma, the Department of Homeland Security announced this afternoon that Secretary Janet Napolitano will travel to the area tomorrow to meet with state and local officials and ensure first responders are receiving the assistance they need to help those affected by the tornadoes.

This morning, President Obama delivered a statement on the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that impacted Oklahoma. He described the response efforts underway, and assured the people of Moore and all the affected areas that they “would have all the resources that they need at their disposal.

“Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts to those in need,” President Obama said. “Because we’re a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes. We’ve seen that spirit in Joplin, in Tuscaloosa; we saw that spirit in Boston and Breezy Point. And that’s what the people of Oklahoma are going to need from us right now.”…READ MORE

Watch the full statement below or read the remarks here.

Remarks by the President on the Tornadoes and Severe Weather in Oklahoma

Source: WH, 5-21-13

State Dining Room

10:08 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  As we all know by now, a series of storms swept across the Plains yesterday, and one of the most destructive tornadoes in history sliced through the towns of Newcastle and Moore, Oklahoma.  In an instant, neighborhoods were destroyed.  Dozens of people lost their lives. Many more were injured.  And among the victims were young children, trying to take shelter in the safest place they knew — their school.

So our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today.

Our gratitude is with the teachers who gave their all to shield their children; with the neighbors, first responders, and emergency personnel who raced to help as soon as the tornado passed; and with all of those who, as darkness fell, searched for survivors through the night.

As a nation, our full focus right now is on the urgent work of rescue, and the hard work of recovery and rebuilding that lies ahead.

Yesterday, I spoke with Governor Fallin to make it clear to Oklahomans that they would have all the resources that they need at their disposal.  Last night, I issued a disaster declaration to expedite those resources, to support the Governor’s team in the immediate response, and to offer direct assistance to folks who have suffered loss.  I also just spoke with Mayor Lewis of Moore, Oklahoma, to ensure that he’s getting everything that he needs.

I’ve met with Secretary Napolitano this morning and my Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor, Lisa Monaco, to underscore that point that Oklahoma needs to get everything that it needs right away.  The FEMA Administrator, Craig Fugate, is on his way to Oklahoma as we speak.  FEMA staff was first deployed to Oklahoma’s Emergency Operations Center on Sunday, as the state already was facing down the first wave of deadly tornadoes.  Yesterday, FEMA activated Urban Search and Rescue Teams from Texas, Nebraska, and Tennessee to assist in the ongoing search and rescue efforts, and a mobile response unit to boost communications and logistical support.

So the people of Moore should know that their country will remain on the ground, there for them, beside them as long as it takes.  For there are homes and schools to rebuild, businesses and hospitals to reopen, there are parents to console, first responders to comfort, and, of course, frightened children who will need our continued love and attention.

There are empty spaces where there used to be living rooms, and bedrooms, and classrooms, and, in time, we’re going to need to refill those spaces with love and laughter and community.

We don’t yet know the full extent of the damage from this week’s storm.  We don’t know both the human and economic losses that may have occurred.  We know that severe rumbling of weather, bad weather, through much of the country still continues, and we’re also preparing for a hurricane season that begins next week.

But if there is hope to hold on to, not just in Oklahoma but around the country, it’s the knowledge that the good people there and in Oklahoma are better prepared for this type of storm than most.  And what they can be certain of is that Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts to those in need.  Because we’re a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes. We’ve seen that spirit in Joplin, in Tuscaloosa; we saw that spirit in Boston and Breezy Point.  And that’s what the people of Oklahoma are going to need from us right now.

For those of you who want to help, you can go online right now to the American Red Cross, which is already on the ground in Moore.  Already we’ve seen the University of Oklahoma announce that it will provide housing for displaced families.  We’ve seen local churches and companies open their doors and their wallets. And last night, the people of Joplin dispatched a team to help the people of Moore.

So for all those who’ve been affected, we recognize that you face a long road ahead.  In some cases, there will be enormous grief that has to be absorbed, but you will not travel that path alone.  Your country will travel it with you, fueled by our faith in the Almighty and our faith in one another.

So our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today.  And we will back up those prayers with deeds for as long as it takes.

Thank you very much.

END
10:13 A.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency May 21, 2013: President Barack Obama Declares State of Emergency in Oklahoma After Tornado

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Obama Declares State of Emergency in Oklahoma After Tornado

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama late Monday declared a state of emergency in Oklahoma after a massive tornado ripped through the city of Moore, leaving at least 24 people dead and more than 100 injured.

In a statement, the White House said the president “ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and tornadoes beginning on May 18, 2013, and continuing.”…READ MORE

President Obama Signs Oklahoma Disaster Declaration

Source: WH, 5-21-13 

The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of Oklahoma and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and tornadoes beginning on May 18, 2013, and continuing.

The President’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding also is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in the counties of Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Sandy Coachman as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

FEMA said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.

FEMA said that residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties may apply for assistance by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

Political Headlines January 15, 2013: House Sends $50 Billion Sandy Aid Package to Senate

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

House Sends $50B Sandy Aid Package to Senate

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-16-13

Approves $50.7 Billion In Hurricane Sandy Aid

Seventy-nine days after Hurricane Sandy slammed into the northeast corridor of the country, the House of Representatives voted Tuesday evening to approve about $50 billion of additional relief for the region impacted by last fall’s super storm.

The vote, 241-180, passed mostly behind Democratic support, winning 49 votes from Republicans and 192 votes from Democrats. Just one Democrat opposed the legislation, while 179 Republicans voted against it….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 4, 2013: House, Senate Approve $9.7 Billion for Sandy Flood Victims

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

House, Senate Approve $9.7 Billion for Sandy Flood Victims

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-4-13

Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

More than two months after superstorm Sandy struck the Northeast, Congress on Friday approved $9.7 billion for FEMA flood insurance programs to be distributed to businesses and residents inundated by the storm.

The House of Representatives vote passed 354 to 67, with all opposition coming from Republicans.  The Senate approved the bill by unanimous consent. The bill grants the National Flood Insurance Program additional borrowing authority to process 115,000 pending insurance claims.

The Senate passed a $60.4 billion bill which would provide aid for victims of Sandy last year. That bill, which matched the White House’s emergency supplemental request, expired after the House refused to consider the legislation before the 112th session of Congress ended this week….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 2, 2013: Gov. Chris Christie Finds Speaker John Boehner’s Actions ‘Disgusting’ for Adjourning the House before Vote on Sandy Relief

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

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Sandy Relief: Christie Finds Boehner’s Actions ‘Disgusting’

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-2-13

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday that it was “disgusting” that the House adjourned without voting on a $60 billion relief package for the victims of superstorm Sandy and put the blame squarely on a fellow Republican — House Speaker John Boehner.

Christie, who is considered a possible Republican presidential candidate four years from now, said there was “only one group to blame, the Republican Party and Speaker Boehner.”

The blunt talking New Jersey governor joined a chorus of Republicans from New York and New Jersey fuming over Boehner’s decision to pull the bill at the last minute….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 2, 2013: Governors Chris Christie, Andrew Cuomo & Lawmakers from New York & New Jersey Furious over Failure to Allocate ‘Sandy’ Funds

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

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Lawmakers Furious over Failure to Allocate ‘Sandy’ Funds

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-2-13

ABC News

Republican lawmakers from New York and New Jersey whose storm-ravaged residents are desperate for federal aid are fuming at their party’s leaders for refusing to hold a vote on a $60 billion disaster relief package, despite promises that help was on the way….

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, called it a “dereliction of duty” in a joint statement with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat.

“This failure to come to the aid of Americans following a severe and devastating natural disaster is unprecedented,” the governors said….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines November 22, 2012: GOP Weekly Address: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Optimism Is Important in Face of Fiscal Challenges

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

GOP Address: Rep. McMorris Rodgers Optimism Is Important in Face of Fiscal Challenges

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-22-12

McMorris [dot] House [dot] gov

In this week’s Republican address Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) echoes the president’s message reminding us of the freedoms  afforded to Americans.

Giving thanks to service members serving away from their families and remaining thoughtful of the many families still dealing with the effects of superstorm Sandy, Rep. McMorris Rodgers says, “The same spirit of service and optimism that brings us together today should inspire us all year round.”

“That why, here in Washington, D.C., Republicans have reached out to President Obama in the hope of working together to help our economy grow and solve the debt that threatens our children’s future,” she says in the address….READ MORE

Political Headlines November 15, 2012: President Barack Obama Visits Hurricane Sandy Ravaged New York

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

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Obama Visits Sandy Ravaged New York

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-15-12
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama on Thursday named Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to coordinate the federal government’s long-term response to rebuilding the New York/New Jersey region devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

“On the federal level, I wanted to assign one particular person who will be our point-person. We thought it would be good to have a New Yorker be the point person,” Obama said in remarks on Staten Island.

Donovan, who is a former New York City housing commissioner, “knows a little bit about New York and building,” Obama said….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency November 15, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Remarks After Surveying Damage from Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island, New York

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President After Surveying Damage from Hurricane Sandy

Source: WH, 11-15-12 

Cedar Grove Avenue
Staten Island, New York

2:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much, everybody.  I’m going to be relatively brief.  I came up here right after the storm, was on the Jersey side, and I promised to everybody that I was speaking on behalf of the country when I said we are going to be here until the rebuilding is complete, and I meant it.  So I’m going to come back today, but I’m also going to be coming back in the future to make sure that we have followed through on that commitment.

I want to thank the outstanding leadership that’s been provided by state and local officials.  Obviously, Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg have done an outstanding job.  To borough president Molinaro, thank you so much for your leadership at a time when the folks here on this island were obviously going through extraordinarily difficult times, the people of Long Island who are going through really tough times.

Across the board, what we’ve seen is cooperation and a spirit of service.  And for the first responders who are here, the police officers, the firefighters, the EMS folks, the sanitation workers who sometimes don’t get credit but have done heroic work, we are so grateful to you because you exemplify what America is all about.  I’m grateful to the Red Cross who has been so responsive not just here, but in disasters around the country.  And I want to thank all the volunteers.  As we were shaking hands over there, we had folks from every part of the country.  We had some Canadians who had come down to help out.

And during difficult times like this, we’re reminded that we’re bound together and we have to look out for each other.  And a lot of the things that seem important, the petty differences melt away, and we focus on what binds us together and that we as Americans are going to stand with each other in their hour of need.

Now, more specifically, we are now still in the process of recovery.  As you can see, as you travel around parts of Staten Island, as we flew over parts of — other parts of the city and the region that had been impacted, there is still a lot of cleanup to do.  People still need emergency help.  They still need heat.  They still need power.  They still need food.  They still need shelter.  Kids are still trying to figure out where they’re going to school.  So there’s a lot of short-term, immediate stuff that has to be dealt with.  And we are going to make sure that we stay here as long as people need that immediate help.  That’s FEMA’s primary task.  And we’ll be coordinating closely with state and local governments to make sure folks are getting the short-term help.

But what we’ve also already heard is that there’s going to be some long-term rebuilding that’s required.  You look at this block and you know that this is a community that is deeply rooted.  Most of the folks that I met here have been here 20, 30, 50 years.  They don’t want to see their community uprooted, but there’s got to be a plan for rebuilding, and that plan is going to have to be coordinated, and they’re going to need resources.

So what I’ve committed to doing is to work with the outstanding congressional delegation led by your Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, also working with Governor Christie and the Jersey delegation to try to come up with a game plan for how we’re going to be able to resource the rebuilding process.

And I’m confident, as Governor Cuomo said, that we’re going to be able to do it.  But it’s going to require everybody focused on getting the job done.  We’re going to have to put some of the turf battles aside.  We’re going to have to make sure that everybody is focused on doing the job as opposed to worrying about who is getting the credit or who is getting the contracts or all that stuff that sometimes goes into the rebuilding process.

On the federal level, because this is going to be such a big job, I wanted to assign one particular person who would be in charge from our perspective, who would be our point person — because FEMA basically runs the recovery process, it doesn’t focus on the rebuilding.  For that, we’ve got to have all government agencies involved.  Janet Napolitano has done a great job with respect to DHS, but we thought it would be good to have a New Yorker who is going to be the point person.  And so our outstanding HUD Secretary, Shaun Donovan, who used to be the head of the New York Housing Authority — so he knows a little bit about New York and building — is going to be our point person.  And he’s going to be working with the mayor, the governor, the borough presidents, the county officials to make sure that we come up with a strong, effective plan.  And then, I’ll be working with the members of Congress to do everything we can to get the resources needed to rebuild.  And I have every confidence that Shaun is going to be doing a great job, and so people should feel some confidence about that.

Let me just close by saying this:  I had the opportunity to give some hugs and communicate thoughts and prayers to the Moore family.  They lost two young sons during the course of this tragedy.  And obviously, I expressed to them — as a father, as a parent — my heartbreak over what they went through.  And they’re still obviously a little shell-shocked.

But they came here in part because they wanted to say thank you to all the people who have been supportive of them.  They in particular mentioned Lieutenant Kevin Gallagher of the NYPD, who, when they knew that their sons were missing, Lieutenant Gallagher made a point of staying with them and doing everything he could so that ultimately they knew what had happened with their boys and were able to recover their bodies, and has been with them as a source of support ever since.

That’s not in the job description of Lieutenant Gallagher.  He did that because that’s what so many of our first responders do.  They go above and beyond the call of duty to respond to people in need.  And so I want to give a shout-out to Lieutenant Gallagher, but I also want to point out, the Moores, even in their grief, asked me to mention Lieutenant Gallagher, and that says something about them as well.

And that spirit and sense of togetherness and looking out for one another, that’s what’s going to carry us through this tragedy.  It’s not going to be easy.  There’s still going to be, believe it or not, some complaints over the next several months.  Not everybody is going to be satisfied.  I have to tell you the insurance companies and some of the other private sector folks who are involved in this, we need you to show some heart and some spirit in helping people rebuild as well.

But when I hear the story of the Moores and I hear about Lieutenant Gallagher, that’s what makes me confident that we’re going to be able to rebuild.

I’m very proud of you, New York.  You guys are tough.  You bounce back, just as America always bounces back.  The same is going to be true this time out.  All right, thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
2:08 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidemcy, November 3, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at FEMA Headquarters Hurricane Sandy Storm Relief Update

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Gets Update on Storm Relief at FEMA

Source: WH, 11-4-12

President Obama at FEMA Briefing Nov 3, 2012

President Barack Obama receives a briefing about the ongoing response to Hurricane Sandy, at FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C., Nov. 3, 2012. Seated, from left, are: FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate; Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. November 3, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Following a briefing with FEMA leaders and Cabinet officers on Saturday in Washington DC, President Obama stressed the importance of making sure all those who have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy know that help is available for them, and asked all Americans to spread the word that anyone looking for assistance — from housing to childcare, medicine and a whole range of support — should call 800-621-FEMA.

The President reiterated that making sure making sure those who suffered loss get the resources they need to rebuild and recover is his number one priority, and outlined the steps being taken to restore normalcy in the region.

Remarks by the President at FEMA Headquarters

Source: WH, 11-3-12

Washington, DC

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, listen, I just completed not only a meeting with our team here at FEMA and all of our Cabinet officers who are involved in the recovery process along the East Coast, but we also had a conference call with the governors of Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, as well as many of the municipalities who have been directly affected by this crisis and this tragedy.

We still have a long way to go to make sure that the people of New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and some of the surrounding areas get their basic needs taken care of and that we start moving back to normalcy.

A couple of things that we’ve emphasized:  Number one, that it is critical for us to get power back on as quickly as possible.  And just to give people an example of the kind of work we’re doing — the military, DOD, thanks to the work of Leon and others, have been able to get military transport facilities to move cherry-pickers and personnel from as far away as California to get that equipment into the area so we can start getting some of the power back on as quickly as possible.  It is a painstaking process, but we’re making progress.

Number two, we’re getting assets in to pump as much water out as possible.  Lower Manhattan obviously is a particularly acute example, but there are problems with flooding that are affecting substations throughout the region.  That’s going to continue to be a top priority.

Number three, making sure that people’s basic needs are taken care of.  As we start seeing the weather get a little bit colder, people can’t be without power for long periods of time, without heat for long periods of time.  And so what we’re doing is starting to shift to identify where we can have temporary housing outside of shelters so people can get some sense of normalcy.  They can have a hot meal; they can have the capacity to take care of their families as their homes are being dealt with.

Number four, debris removal still important.  Number five, making sure that the National Guard and other federal assets are in place to help with getting the transportation systems back up and running — that’s going to be critical.

What I told the governors and the mayors is what I’ve been saying to my team since the start of this event, and that is we don’t have any patience for bureaucracy, we don’t have any patience for red tape, and we want to make sure that we are figuring out a way to get to yes, as opposed to no, when it comes to these problems.

The other thing I emphasized, though, is that it is much easier for us to respond if we know what these problems are out in these areas, so if everybody can help publicize the number 800-621-FEMA — 800-621-FEMA — then individuals can register with FEMA and immediately get the assistance that they need.

And so the more that folks in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut understand that there are a lot of resources available for them, not just with respect to housing, but also with respect to childcare, medicine, a whole range of support, then we want to make sure that they contact us as soon as possible if they’re in distress because help is available.

Let me just close by saying this:  Obviously we’ve now seen that after the initial search and rescue, the recovery process is difficult and it’s painful.  But the governors at the local level — Governors Christie, Cuomo, and Malloy — they are working around the clock, their teams are working around the clock.  We are incredibly grateful to the heroism and hard work of our first responders, many of whom themselves have had their homes flooded out.  Our hearts continue to go out to those families who have been affected and who have actually lost loved ones — that’s obviously heartbreaking.

But I’m confident that we can continue to make progress as long as state, local and federal officials stay focused.  And I can assure you everybody on this team, everybody sitting around the table has made this a number-one priority and this continues to be my number-one priority.

There’s nothing more important than us getting this right.  And we’re going to spend as much time, effort and energy as necessary to make sure that all the people in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut know that the entire country is behind them in this difficult recovery effort.  We are going to put not just 100 percent, but 120 percent behind making sure that they get the resources they need to rebuild and recover.

Thank you very much, everybody.

Campaign Headlines November 1, 2012: Mayor Mike Bloomberg Endorses President Barack Obama

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Mayor Mike Bloomberg Endorses Obama

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-1-12

Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic

Citing climate change as the deciding factor, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday endorsed President Obama for a second term, saying Hurricane Sandy “brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief.”

In the wake of the devastation, Bloomberg, an independent, said the president is the best leader to tackle climate change, which he believes contributed to the storm…..READ MORE

Full Text Campaign Buzz November 1, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Campaign Event in Las Vegas, Nevada — Invokes Superstorm Sandy on the Campaign Trail

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Invokes Superstorm Sandy on the Campaign Trail

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-1-12

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

After canceling campaign events for three days to oversee the response to the devastating storm, President Obama, back on the trail, told supporters in two key battleground states Thursday that Superstorm Sandy serves as a reminder that “when disaster strikes, we see America at its best.”

“All the petty differences that consume us in normal times somehow melt away,” the president told 4,500 Nevadans at a rally in Las Vegas. “There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm, just fellow Americans, leaders of different parties working to fix what’s broken, neighbors helping neighbors cope with tragedy, communities rallying to rebuild, a spirit that says, In the end we’re all in this together, that we rise or fall as one nation.”…READ MORE

Remarks by the President in Las Vegas, NV

Source: WH, 11-1-12

Cheyenne Sports Complex
Las Vegas, Nevada

2:05 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Nevada!  (Applause.)  It is great to be back in Vegas!  (Applause.)  It’s great to be here with your next senator, Shelley Berkley — (applause) — who’s going to join my great friend, Majority Leader Harry Reid, in fighting for the people of Nevada.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Where’s Michelle?

THE PRESIDENT:  Michelle couldn’t come, but she says hey.  (Applause.)  She loves you guys.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love her!

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, for the past few days, all of us have been focused on —

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  All right.  Thank you so much.

Listen, for the past few days, all of us have been focused on one of the worst storms in our lifetime.  We are awed by the destructive power of nature.  We’re mourning those who’ve been lost.  And we’re going to pledge to those whose lives have been turned upside down that we will not quit until we have given them all the help they need to recover.  (Applause.)

This afternoon, as I was flying out to Vegas, we had conference calls with mayors all across New Jersey; had conference calls with mayors and local elected officials all across Connecticut.  I spoke to the governors of New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York, and they’re struggling.  And the cleanup, the aftermath of this storm is going to be hard and it’s going to take some time.

But the thing that I have repeated to them every time I talk to them is America will not forget them.  We are going to make sure they get everything they need.  We’re going to cut through the red tape and the bureaucracy.  (Applause.)  We’ve got military transport getting equipment in to get the power back on.  We’ve got food and water and medical supplies that we’re shipping in.  And we’re not going to stop — because what we understand is, is that this could happen to any of us.

AUDIENCE:  That’s right!

THE PRESIDENT:  And that’s why, even in the midst of tragedy, the situation on the East Coast has also inspired, because it reminds us that when disaster strikes we see America at its best.  All the petty differences that consume us in normal times somehow melt away.  There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm, just fellow Americans –- (applause) — leaders of different parties working to fix what’s broken; neighbors helping neighbors cope with tragedy; communities rallying to rebuild; a spirit that says in the end, we’re all in this together –- that we rise or fall as one nation.  (Applause.)

That’s what we have seen on display over these last few days.  That is the spirit that we need going forward.  That spirit has guided this country along its improbable journey for more than two centuries.  It’s carried us through the trials and tribulations of the last four years.

In 2008, we were in the middle of two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Today, our businesses have created over 5 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  The American auto industry is back on top.  (Applause.)  American manufacturing is growing faster than any time in the last 15 years.  (Applause.)  We’re less dependent on foreign oil than any time in the last 20 years.  (Applause.)  Home values are on the rise.  (Applause.)  Thanks to the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over.  (Applause.)  The war in Afghanistan is coming to an end.  Al Qaeda has been decimated.  Osama bin Laden is dead.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thanks to you!

THE PRESIDENT:  So we’ve made real progress these past four years.  But, Nevada, we know our work is not yet done.  We know our work is not yet done in making sure that New Jersey and New York and Connecticut and West Virginia, that they all recover from the hardship they’ve experienced.  (Applause.)

Our work is not done as long as there’s a single American who wants a job and can’t yet find one.  As long as there are families who are working harder and harder, but falling further behind, our work is not yet done.  As long as there is a child languishing in poverty, barred from opportunity anywhere in this country, anywhere in Nevada, our work is not yet done.  (Applause.)

Our fight goes on, because we know this nation can’t succeed without a growing, thriving middle class, and strong, sturdy ladders into the middle class.  Our fight goes on because America has always been at its best when everybody gets a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same rules.  That’s what we believe.  That’s why you elected me in 2008, and that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States of America.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  We knew from the beginning that our work would take more than one year or even one term.  Because, let’s face it, the middle class was getting hammered long before the financial crisis hit — because the economy has changed. Technology made us more productive, but it also made a lot of good jobs obsolete.  Global trade brought us cheaper products, but it also allowed companies to move and hire people in low-wage countries.

American workers saw their paychecks squeezed, even as corporate profits were rising and CEO salaries exploded.  The guaranteed security of pensions and health care started slowly to disappear.

These fundamental changes in the economy, the rise of technology and global competition, these changes are real.  We can’t wish away these challenges.  But here’s what I know, Nevada.  We can meet these challenges.  (Applause.)  This is America.  We’ve got the world’s best workers and the world’s best entrepreneurs.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the world’s best scientists and the world’s best researchers.  We’ve got the best colleges and the best universities.  And we’ve got the most innovative spirit.  We’ve got everything we need to thrive in this new 21st century economy.  And there’s not a country on Earth that would not gladly trade places with the United States.   (Applause.)

But we’ve got a choice to make if we’re going to realize that promise, if we’re going to make sure that that success is there for the next generation.

In five days, we will choose our next President.  (Applause.)  And, Nevada, it’s more than just a choice between two candidates.  It’s more than just a choice between two parties.  You’re going to be making a choice between two fundamentally different visions of America.

On the one hand, we’ve got folks who are arguing to return to the top-down policies that crashed our economy.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  What we’re talking about is a future that’s built on a strong and growing middle class.  (Applause.)

Nevada, we know the choice that needs to be made, and we’re here today because we believe that if this country invests in the skills and ideas of its people, then good jobs and businesses will follow.

We believe that America’s free market has been the engine of America’s progress, driven by risk-takers and innovators and dreamers.  Folks in Nevada know about dreaming.  (Applause.)  But we also understand that in this country, people succeed when they’ve got a shot at a good education, when they have a chance to learn new skills — and by the way, businesses benefit because they’re hiring those workers, and some of those workers end up starting businesses of their own.

We believe that when we support research into medical breakthroughs, research into new technology, entire new industries will start here and stay here and hire here.

We don’t believe government should poke its nose in everything we do, but we do believe this country is stronger when there are rules to protect our kids from toxic dumping and mercury pollution — (applause) — when there are rules to protect consumers from unscrupulous credit card companies and mortgage lenders.  (Applause.)  We believe we grow faster when our tax code rewards hard work and companies that create jobs here in America.  (Applause.)  And we believe that quality health care for everybody and a dignified retirement for everybody aren’t just achievable goals, they are a measure of our values as a nation.  That’s what we believe.

For eight years, we had a President who shared these beliefs.  His name was Bill Clinton.  (Applause.)  And when he was elected, he asked the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more so we could reduce the deficit and still make investments in things like education and training, and science and research.  And here’s an interesting thing — plenty of folks who were running for Congress at the time said it would hurt the economy, that raising taxes on the wealthy would kill jobs.  And if that argument sounds familiar, one of those candidates who was running back then happens to be the guy who is running for President right now.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t boo — vote.  (Applause.)  Vote.

Turns out their math was just as bad back then as it is today — (laughter) — because by the end of Bill Clinton’s second term, America had created 23 million new jobs.  Incomes were up.  Poverty was down.  Our deficit became the biggest surplus in history.

So, Nevada, we know our ideas work.  We also know the ideas that don’t work.  Because in the eight years after Bill Clinton left office, his policies were reversed.  The wealthiest Americans got tax cuts they didn’t need and we couldn’t afford. Companies enjoyed tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas.  Insurance companies and oil companies and Wall Street were given free license to do whatever they pleased.  Folks at the top got to play a different set of rules than the rest of us.  And the result of this top-down economics was falling incomes, record deficits, the slowest job growth in half a century, and an economic crisis that we’re still cleaning up after.

So, in the closing weeks of this campaign, Governor Romney has been using all his talents as a salesman to dress up the very same policies that failed our country so badly, the very same policies we’ve been cleaning up after over these four years, and with a straight face, he’s offering them up as change.  (Laughter.)  He’s saying he’s the candidate of change.

Now, let me tell you, Nevada, we know what change looks like.  (Applause.)  And what the Governor is offering sure ain’t change.  Giving more power back to the biggest banks isn’t change.  Leaving millions without health insurance isn’t change.  Another $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthy isn’t change.  Refusing to answer questions about the details of your policies isn’t change.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  Turning Medicare into a voucher, that is change, but we don’t want that change.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  Ruling out compromise by pledging to rubber-stamp the tea party’s agenda as President — that’s definitely not change.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t boo —

AUDIENCE:  Vote!

THE PRESIDENT:  In fact, that’s exactly the attitude in Washington that needs to go.

So after four years as President, you know me by now.  (Applause.)  You may not agree with every decision I’ve made, you may be frustrated at the pace of change, but you know what I believe.  You know where I stand.  You know I’m willing to make tough decisions, even when they’re not politically convenient.  And you know that I will fight for you and your families every single day, as hard as I know how.  (Applause.)

So my opponent can talk about change, but I know what real change looks like because I’ve fought for it.  (Applause.)  I’ve got the scars to proof it.  You have, too.  And after all that we’ve been through together, Nevada, we sure as heck can’t give up now.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  Change is a country where Americans of every age have the skills and education that good jobs require.  And government can’t do this alone — parents have to parent; teachers have to teach.  But don’t tell me that hiring more teachers won’t help this economy grow, or help young people compete.  We know it will.  (Applause.)

Don’t tell me that students who can’t afford college should just borrow money from their parents.  That wasn’t an option for me.  I’ll bet it wasn’t an option for a whole lot of you.  We shouldn’t be ending college tax credits just to pay for a millionaire’s tax cut — we should be making college more affordable for everybody who’s willing to work for it.  (Applause.)

We should recruit 100,000 math and science teachers so that high-tech, high-wage jobs aren’t created in China; they’re created right here in Nevada.  (Applause.)  We should work with our community colleges to train another 2 million Americans with the skills that businesses are looking for right now.  That’s my plan for the future.  That’s what change is.  That’s the America we’re fighting for in this election.

Change comes when we live up to our legacy of innovation, when we make America home to the next generation of outstanding manufacturing, scientific discovery, technological breakthroughs.  I am proud that I bet on American workers, and American ingenuity, and the American auto industry.  (Applause.)   Today we’re not just building cars again; we’re building better cars — cars that by the middle of the next decade will go twice as far on a gallon of gas.  (Applause.)

Today, there are thousands of workers building long-lasting batteries and wind turbines, installing solar panels all across the country.  And those jobs, they weren’t there four years ago.

And, sure, not all technologies we bet on will pan out.  Some of the businesses we encourage will fail.  But I promise you this:  There is a future for manufacturing in America.  (Applause.)   There’s a future for clean energy in America.  (Applause.)

I refuse to cede that future to other countries.  I don’t want a tax code that rewards companies for creating jobs overseas; I want to reward companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  I don’t want a tax code that subsidizes oil company profits when they’re already making money hand over fist.  I want to support the energy jobs of tomorrow, the new technologies that will cut our oil imports in half.  That’s my plan for jobs and growth.  (Applause.)  That’s the future that I see for America.

Change is finally turning the page on a decade of war to do some nation-building right here at home.  (Applause.)  So long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, we will pursue our enemies with the strongest military the world has ever known.  We will not let up.  But it’s time to use the savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to start paying down our debt and rebuild America.

Right now — we could be putting more folks back to work right now, fixing roads and bridges, expanding broadband to rural neighborhoods, making sure our schools are state-of-the-art.  Let’s put Americans back to work doing the work that needs to be done — (applause) — especially our veterans, because no one who fights for this country should have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads when they come home.  (Applause.)

That’s my commitment to you.  That’s what’s at stake in this election.  Change is a future where, yes, we reduce our deficit, but we do it in a balanced, responsible way.  I’ve already signed a trillion dollars’ worth of spending cuts.  I’ll work with both parties to streamline agencies and get rid of programs that don’t work.  But if we’re really serious about the deficit, then we’ve also got to ask the wealthiest Americans to go back to the tax rates they paid when Bill Clinton was President.  (Applause.)

Because as long as I’m President, I am not going to turn Medicare into a voucher just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut.  (Applause.)  I won’t allow this nation to be plunged into another battle over health care reform just so insurance companies can jump back in the driver’s seat.  (Applause.)  And I will never allow politicians in Washington to control the health care choices that women should make for themselves.  (Applause.)

So, Nevada, we know what change is.  We know what the future requires.  We don’t need a big government agenda, or a small government agenda; we need a middle-class agenda that rewards the values of hard work and responsibility.  We don’t need a partisan agenda — we need a common-sense agenda that says when we educate a poor child, we’ll all be better off; that says when we fund the research of a young scientist, her new discovery will benefit every American.

We need a vision that says we don’t just look out for ourselves; we look out for one another.  We look out for future generations.  We meet those obligations working together.  That’s the change we believe in.  And that’s what this election is all about.  (Applause.)  That’s what this election is all about.  (Applause.)

Now, Nevada, let’s be clear — achieving this agenda won’t be easy.  It’s never been easy.  We always knew it would be hard.  Back in 2008, when we talked about change, I told you I wasn’t just talking about changing presidents.  I wasn’t just talking about changing political parties.  I was talking about changing our politics.  I ran because the voices of the American people — your voices — had been shut out of our democracy for way too long — by lobbyists and special interests; by politicians who believed that compromise is a dirty word; by folks who would say anything to stay in office or win office, or do anything to make sure that the special interests who support them get what they want.

The protectors of the status quo are a powerful force in Washington.  And over the last four years, every time we’ve pushed to make change, they fought back with everything they’ve got.  They spent millions to stop us from reforming health care; spent millions to fight us when we tried to reform Wall Street.  Their strategy from the start was to engineer pure gridlock, refusing to compromise on ideas that both Democrats and Republicans had supported in the past.

And what they’re counting on now is that the American people will be so worn down by all the squabbling in Washington, so tired of all the dysfunction, that you’ll actually reward their obstruction, and put people back in charge who advocate the very same policies that got us into this mess.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  In other words, their bet is on cynicism.  But, Nevada, my bet is on you.  (Applause.)  My bet is on you.  My bet is on the decency and good sense of the American people.  Because despite all the resistance, despite all the setbacks, we have never lost sight of the vision that we shared –- that you’d have a voice; that there would be somebody at the table fighting every single day for middle-class Americans, for folks who are striving to get into the middle class.  (Applause.)

Sometimes Republicans in Congress have worked with me to meet our goals, and nobody could be happier.  We cut taxes for small businesses and families like yours, and they helped.  We opened new markets for American goods.  We finally repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and we had some courageous Republican senators supporting us.  (Applause.)

But, yes, we’ve also had some big fights — like when we forced the banks to stop overcharging for student loans, and made college affordable for millions of students; like when we forced Wall Street to abide by the toughest rules since the 1930s; like when we stopped insurance companies from discriminating against Americans with preexisting conditions like cancer or diabetes, so that no one in America goes bankrupt just because they get sick.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t fight those fights for any partisan advantage.  I’ve shown my willingness to work with anybody, of any party, to move this country forward.  And if you want to break the gridlock in Congress, you’ll vote for leaders — whether they’re Democrats, Republicans, independents — who feel the same way.  You’ll vote for candidates like Shelley Berkley, and Dina Titus, and John Oceguera, and Steve Horsford  — (applause) — people who just want to fix problems and help America, and work on behalf of hardworking families like yours.

But if the price of peace in Washington is cutting deals that will kick students off of financial aid, or get rid of funding for Planned Parenthood, or eliminate health care for millions on Medicaid who are poor, or elderly, or disabled, just to give a millionaire a tax cut — I’m not having it.  (Applause.)  That’s not a deal worth having.  That’s not bipartisanship.  That’s not real change.  That’s surrender to the same status quo that’s hurt middle-class families for way too long.  And I’m not ready to give up on the fight just yet.  (Applause.)

I’m not giving up on the fight, and I hope you aren’t either, Nevada.  (Applause.)  I hope you aren’t either.  I need you still fired up.  (Applause.)

The folks at the very top in this country, they don’t need a champion in Washington.  They’ll always have a seat at the table.  They’ll always have access and influence.  That’s okay, we understand that.  But the people who need a champion are the Americans whose letters I read late at night; the men and women I meet on the campaign trail every single day.

The laid-off furniture worker who is retraining at the age of 55 after they got laid off — she needs a champion.  The small restaurant owner who needs a loan to expand after the bank turned him down — he needs a champion.  (Applause.)  The cooks and waiters and cleaning staff working overtime at a Vegas hotel, trying to save enough to buy a first home or send their kid to college — they need a champion.  (Applause.)

The autoworker who’s back on the job after thinking he might never go back, filled with the pride and dignity of building a great American car — he needs a champion.  (Applause.)  The young teacher doing her best in an overcrowded classroom with outdated textbooks, digging into her own pocket to buy school supplies, never giving up on those kids, understanding that they can learn — she needs a champion.  (Applause.)

And all those young people in inner cities and small farm towns, in the valleys of Ohio, or rolling Virginia hills, or right here in Vegas or way up in Elko — kids dreaming of becoming scientists or doctors, engineers or entrepreneurs, diplomats, maybe even a president — they need a champion in Washington.  (Applause.)

The future will never have as many lobbyists as the past, but it’s the dreams of those children that will be our saving grace.  (Applause.)  And that’s why I need you, Nevada — to make sure their voices are heard; to make sure your voices are heard.

We’ve come too far to turn back now.  (Applause.)  We’ve come too far to let our hearts grow faint, to go weary.  (Applause.)  Now is the time to keep pushing forward — to educate all our kids and train all our workers, to create new jobs and rebuild our infrastructure, to discover new sources of energy, to broaden opportunity, to grow our middle class, to restore our democracy — to make sure that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or how you started out, you can make it here in America.  (Applause.)  That’s why we are moving forward.  (Applause.)

In the midst of the Great Depression, FDR reminded the country that “failure is not an American habit; and in the strength of great hope we must all shoulder our common load.”  That’s the strength we need today.

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s the hope I’m asking you to share.  That’s the future in our sight.  That’s why I’m asking you for your vote.  (Applause.)  That’s why I’m asking you, Nevada, for your vote.

And if you’re willing to work with me, and knock on some doors with me, and make some phone calls for me — (applause) — if you’re willing to turn out for me, and grab some friends and neighbors for me, we’ll win Clark County again.  (Applause.)  We’ll win Nevada again.  (Applause.)  We’ll win this election.  And together, we’ll renew the bonds and reaffirm the spirit that make the United States of America the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Let’s go vote!  Let’s get this done!

END
2:35 P.M. PDT

Campaign Headlines November 1, 2012: Mitt Romney Says He Supports FEMA

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Romney Says He Supports FEMA

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-1-12

Win McNamee/Getty Images

With so much attention this week on Hurricane Sandy and the response to its ravaging, year-old comments by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney suggesting that disaster relief should fall more to the states and the private sector have received new scrutiny….

Romney, who suspended his campaign rallies in favor of donation drives for Sandy on Tuesday, stated his position on FEMA in a statement to ABC News Thursday.

“I believe that FEMA plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters,” he said. “As president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission, while directing maximum resources to the first responders who work tirelessly to help those in need, because states and localities are in the best position to get aid to the individuals and communities affected by natural disasters.”…READ MORE

Full Text Political Buzz October 31, 2012: President Barack Obama and Governor Chris Christie’s Speeches After Surveying Damage from Hurricane Sandy at the Brigantine Marina in Brigantine, New Jersey

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Tours Storm Damage in New Jersey

Source: WH, 11-1-12
President Obama and Gov. Christie Survey Storm DamagePresident Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talk with citizens who are recovering from Hurricane Sandy, while surveying storm damage in Brigantine, N.J., Oct. 31, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Yesterday, the President was in New Jersey to witness first-hand the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, and comfort the Americans affected by the storm. With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, he surveyed the damage from Marine One, walked the streets of Brigantine, and visited a community center now serving as shelter for displaced residents.

After speaking with residents and hearing their stories, the President spoke, alongside Governor Chris Christie, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, and other officials, to reassure those affected by the storm of recovery, and pledge the full support of the federal government every step of the way. He reminded the American people of our remarkable ability to come together as a country when we go through tough times, and the importance of never leaving anybody behind:

And when you see folks like that respond with strength and resilience, when you see neighbors helping neighbors, then you’re reminded about what America is all about.  We go through tough times, but we bounce back.  And the reason we bounce back is because we look out for one another and we don’t leave anybody behind. And so my commitment to the people on this block, the people in this community, and the people of this state is that that same spirit will carry over all the way through until our work is done.

Remarks by the President and Governor Christie After Surveying Damage from Hurricane Sandy

Source: WH, 10-31-12 

Brigantine Marina
Brigantine, New Jersey

4:38 P.M. EDT

GOVERNOR CHRISTIE:  Good afternoon, everybody.  And thank you all for coming today.  I want to thank the members who are here as well.  And obviously, I want to thank the President.

We spent a significant afternoon together surveying the damage up and down the New Jersey coastline; we were on Marine One together to be able to show the President that personally.  I had an opportunity to see it, and we had an opportunity to discuss it at length.  And then, going over to the shelter here, being able to meet with folks to have them see the President and his concern, and the concern that all of us have for making sure that things get back to normal as quickly as possible.

We have lots of challenges.  One of our challenges now is to get back to normalcy.  And so the things we need to do is to make sure that we get power restored as quickly as possible; make sure that people have clean drinking water, and waste water treatment plants are working; hospitals are taken care of the way they need to; and that we get kids back to school.

And so, I discussed all those issues today with the President, and I’m pleased to report that he has sprung into action immediately to help get us those things while we were in the car riding together.  So I want to thank him for that.  He has worked incredibly closely with me since before the storm hit.  I think this is our sixth conversation since the weekend, and it’s been a great working relationship to make sure that we’re doing the jobs that people elected us to do.  And I cannot thank the President enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state and for the people of our state.  And I heard it on the phone conversations with him, and I was able to witness it today personally.

And so we’re going to continue to work.  The state government is here.  We’re doing what we need to do.  We’re coordinating with FEMA, and I want to thank Administrator Fugate for being here and for the input he’s already had in helping to make our operation even better.  And we will move on from here.

What I said yesterday I really mean.  I know there has got to be sorrow, and you see that and the President has seen that today in the eyes — the faces of a lot of the folks he’s met.  And that sorrow is appropriate; we’ve suffered some loss.  Luckily, we haven’t suffered that much loss of life and we thank God for that.  But we have suffered losses, and this is the worst storm that I’ve seen in my lifetime in this state.  But we cannot permit that sorrow to replace the resilience that I know all New Jerseyans have.  And so we will get up and we’ll get this thing rebuilt, and we’ll put things back together, because that’s what this state is all about and always has been all about.

And so for all of you who are here — and I met a bunch of you today at Brigantine who disregarded my admonition — (laughter) — to get the hell out of here — you’re forgiven this time.  You are forgiven this time, but not for much longer.  We’ve got to make sure when all of you look around and you see all this destruction, that’s fine — but you know what, all that stuff can be replaced.  You look to your right and to your left, to your husband or wife, your son or your daughter — those are the things that can’t be replaced.  So I’m glad that we don’t have that kind of loss of life to have to deal with.

So I want to thank him for being here today, for bringing his personal attention to it.  And it’s my honor to introduce to all of you the President of the United States.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Let me just make sure that I acknowledge the folks who are here, because they’ve played an important role in this.

First of all, your congressional delegation — Senator Bob Menendez, Senator Frank Lautenberg, Congressman Frank LoBiondo, Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson, and Brigantine Mayor Philip Guenther.

Obviously, this is a federal, state, and local effort.  And the first thing I want to do is just to thank everybody who has been involved in the entire rescue and recovery process.  At the top of my list, I have to say that Governor Christie throughout this process has been responsive; he has been aggressive in making sure that the state got out in front of this incredible storm.  And I think the people of New Jersey recognize that he has put his heart and soul into making sure that the people of New Jersey bounce back even stronger than before.  So I just want to thank him for his extraordinary leadership and partnership.

I want to thank the congressional delegation because part of the reason we’re going to be able to respond quickly to all this is because they helped to make sure that FEMA financing was in place, and we’re very appreciative of those efforts.  And I want to thank Craig Fugate; sometimes people just think FEMA and they don’t think the people behind them, but Craig lives and breathes this stuff, making sure that we’re providing the help that people so desperately need in these situations.

I want to thank all the first responders who have been involved in this process — the linesmen, the firefighters, the folks who were in here shuttling out people who were supposed to “get the hell out” and didn’t.  You’ve helped to save a lot of lives and a lot of property.  And one of the things that you learn in these tragedies is, the first responders — keep in mind their homes usually are underwater too, or their families have been affected in some way, and yet they make those personal sacrifices to help other people.  So we really appreciate them.

I’m just going to make a couple of comments.  Number one, and most important, our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones.  It’s true that because of some good preparation, the loss of life was kept lower than it might have been, but for those individual families, obviously their world has been torn apart.  And we need to make sure that everybody who has lost a loved one knows they’re in our thoughts and prayers — and I speak for the whole country there.

For those like the people I just had the chance to meet on this block and throughout New Jersey and throughout the region whose lives have been upended, my second message is we are here for you, and we will not forget; we will follow up to make sure that you get all the help that you need until you’ve rebuilt.

At this point, our main focus is on the states of New Jersey, which got hit harder than anybody; the state of New York, particularly lower Manhattan and Long Island.  We are very concerned about some situations in Connecticut as well, and we’re still monitoring West Virginia where there are heavy snows in some inaccessible areas.  But for the most part, those four states are really bearing the brunt of this incredible storm.

What we’ve been able to do is to pre-position and stage commodities — water, power generators, ambulances in some cases, food, medical supplies, emergency supplies — and we have over 2,000 FEMA personnel that are on the ground right now.  Their job, now that we’re moving out of the search-and-rescue phase, is to make sure that they are going out and talking to individual communities so that people know exactly how they can get the help that they need.

We expedited our emergency declarations for the state of New Jersey and local counties that have been affected.  What that means is, is that people can immediately start registering for emergency assistance.  And one of the things I want to emphasize to the people of New Jersey and throughout the region:  Now that you’re safe, your family is safe, but you’re trying to figure out where you’re going to stay for the next couple of days, et cetera, it’s very important that you know that there is help available to you right now, for example, to find rental housing or to be able to pay for some groceries.  Over at the community center we saw a young woman who had a newborn, or I guess probably an eight-month old, still needs diapers and formula, and has run out.  Those are the kinds of basic supplies and help that we can provide.

If you call 800-621-FEMA — 800-621-FEMA — or DisasterAssistance.gov — if you’ve got access to the Internet, you can go to DisasterAssistance.gov.  What that allows you to do is to register right now so that you can immediately start receiving help.  We want to make sure that you get everything that you need.

Just a couple of final points.  Obviously, our biggest priority right now is getting power turned back on.  We were very pleased that Newark got power yesterday; Jersey City is getting power we believe today.  But there are still big chunks of the community, including this community right here, that don’t have power.  And so it’s hard enough cleaning up debris and dealing with boats that have been upended and roads that are blocked; when people don’t have power, though, obviously they’re disabled in all sorts of ways and it’s hard to get back to normal.

So yesterday, I had a chance to speak to the CEOs of the utilities from all across the country.  And a lot of the states that were spared, that were not hard hit, or some states as far away as California, they have pledged to start getting equipment crews, et cetera, here into New Jersey and New York and Connecticut as quickly as possible.

And one of the things that we’ve been able to do — just to give you a sense of how this is an all-hands-deck approach — we’re able to get C-17s and C-130s, military transport planes, potentially, to move assets, personnel to speed up the process of getting power up and running as soon as possible.

Our first priority is water filtration plants and some other critical infrastructure in the state; for that, we’ve got emergency generators.  We’ve got a Navy ship that has some helicopters that can help to move assets around the state as well.  And so we’re going to be working with Governor Christie’s office and local officials to identify what are those critical infrastructure, how can we get what’s needed as quickly as possible.

Just a couple of other things that we’re concerned about — one is, as power starts coming back on, we want to make sure that people can also get to work.  Obviously, there are a lot of folks in Jersey who work in New York, in the city, and in other places where transportation may be hobbled.  One of the things I mentioned to the Governor is the possibility of us using federal assets, military assets, as well as taking inventory of assets from around the country that can be brought in so that we can help people get to their work.

And Governor Christie also mentioned the importance of schools.  The sooner we can get our kids back into school, the sooner they’re back into a routine; that obviously helps the families and helps the kids as well.

So we’re going to have a lot of work to do.  I don’t want anybody to feel that somehow this is all going to get cleaned up overnight.  We want to make sure that people have realistic expectations.

But what I can promise you is that the federal government will be working as closely as possible with the state and local officials, and we will not quit until this is done.  And the directive that I have given — and I said this yesterday, but I will repeat; and I think Craig and others who are working with me right now know I mean it — we are not going to tolerate red tape.  We’re not going to tolerate bureaucracy.  And I’ve instituted a 15-minute rule, essentially, on my team:  You return everybody’s phone calls in 15 minutes, whether it’s the mayors’, the governors’, county officials’.  If they need something, we figure out a way to say yes.

As I was just gathering around, I had a chance to talk to some of the young people here who have been volunteering, going up and down the block cleaning up debris.  And when we were over at the community center, there was a restaurant owner who, for the last 18 hours, had been cooking meals, just as his contribution to the recovery process.  And some of the folks were saying the food was better than they got at home.  (Laughter.)  You had a 15-year-old young man whose mother was disabled, and he was making sure that she was okay, and taking on extraordinary responsibilities for himself but also for his mom.

And when you see folks like that respond with strength and resilience, when you see neighbors helping neighbors, then you’re reminded about what America is all about.  We go through tough times, but we bounce back.  And the reason we bounce back is because we look out for one another and we don’t leave anybody behind.

And so my commitment to the people on this block, the people in this community, and the people of this state is that that same spirit will carry over all the way through until our work is done.  All right?

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
4:51 P.M. EDT

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