Charges of politics surround visits to hurricane damage
September 3rd, 2012
09:26 PM ET
2 years ago

Charges of politics surround visits to hurricane damage

(CNN) - Making political hay of a disaster may still be distasteful, but accusing one's opponent of doing as much is alive and well.

President Barack Obama's visit to Louisiana on Monday came three days after his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, also toured damage in the region left in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.

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Both men were accompanied by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican. Both men adjusted their campaign schedules to accommodate the trips. Both men met with victims and relief workers.

And both men's campaigns took heat from the other side.

Romney's campaign responded Monday evening to comments made by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who told reporters earlier in the day that "disasters are apolitical," as are disaster responses, but charged that Romney's running mate had previously acted otherwise.

"When it comes to the kinds of choices politicians make in Washington about what their priorities are, it is worth noting that last year there was an effort to underfund the money that's used to provide relief to Americans when they've been hit by disasters," Carney said. "And that effort was led by Congressman Paul Ryan, who is now running to be vice president of the United States."

Ryan's budget proposal included lowering funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and last summer, Republicans said disaster spending should be offset by spending cuts in other areas.

Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Ryan with the Romney campaign, fired back that, "Apparently there's nothing the president's team won't politicize.

"Paul Ryan believes providing aid to victims of natural disasters is a critical obligation and should be treated as a high priority within a fiscally responsible budget," Buck continued in a written statement. "It's sad that the White House would stoop to using this heartbreaking event as an opportunity to distort his record and play politics. A Romney-Ryan administration will always ensure there is disaster funding for those in need. Period."

Charges of political play also surrounded Romney's visit to the region on Friday.

Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the top Democrat in the Senate - who has also charged that Romney went without paying taxes for a decade, which he said an unnamed person told him – harshly characterized Romney's trip as political.

"It is the height of hypocrisy for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to make a pretense of showing sympathy for the victims of Hurricane Isaac when their policies would leave those affected by this disaster stranded and on their own," Reid said in a statement.

"Under a Romney-Ryan administration, we would not have been prepared to respond to Hurricane Isaac," he charged. "If Paul Ryan and his fellow House Republicans had succeeded in blocking disaster relief last fall, there would have been no aid for the victims of Isaac today. And Paul Ryan's budget would gut disaster funding, making it much harder to get aid to our fellow Americans in their time of need."

– CNN White House Correspondent Dan Lothian contributed to this report


Filed under: 2012
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    CNN, please really? The President is our Commander in Chief, our Leader.
    The guy on the right is a private citizen who is pretending he cares about the downtrodden because he needs/wants to/is destined (gawd forbid) to be president and he has been trying for over a decade.
    BTW – did anyone answer the twit's question as to from where did the water come? The sky, the river or the sea?
    This guy is truly an imbecile!!! The trees are the right height. He can't think on his feet if his life or candidacy depended on it.

    September 3, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  2. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    Jindel is republican, so I'm am sure he invited them to come and visit, since they knew Obama was coming on Monday! Jindel is just trying to make his people look like they are caring, since they really are not1

    September 3, 2012 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  3. Yonni

    Why Mitt was in Luciana? In what capacity he is not the president yet unless he want photo up what he will do for the victims. He should have the respected the presidency and follow the white house lead. Otherwise it is highly pretentious for him to be there before the POTUS.

    September 3, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  4. Tega

    Since when CNN has became a propaganda wing of Mit Romney?

    September 3, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  5. Larry L

    @Marie MD

    CNN, please really? The President is our Commander in Chief, our Leader.
    The guy on the right is a private citizen who is pretending he cares about the downtrodden because he needs/wants to/is destined (gawd forbid) to be president and he has been trying for over a decade.
    -----------------------------------------------------
    Just what I was thinking! Thanks.

    September 3, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  6. Lionel

    OMG! Republicans wanted to cut funding to relief agencies and now they are pretending that they care.

    Obama is the President and not Mr. Romney.

    Obama does Care. Republicans do not. All they care about is tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

    September 3, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  7. DocHollywood

    It is a president's duty to visit areas of disaster. He is, in effect, the spokesman for the federal government. Romney's visit was understandable in the fact that he's running to be president, but his visit wasn't nearly as meaningful as the presidents. As far as Carney goes, he was only pointing out the policy advocated by Ryan and other house republicans. They did state that disaster relief would have to be offset by savings elsewhere. There's nothing wrong in pointing that out during a presidential campaign.

    September 3, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  8. Thomas

    The photo of the President looks better !

    " Romney , you're doing a heck of a job,"

    September 3, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  9. truth hurts

    Last I checked, President Obama was the only one of the two candidates in position to green light FEMA aid to hurricane ravaged states. What purpose did Romney's visit serve? To show he cares? Because we all KNOW he doesn't.

    Regardless, there will ALWAYS be Obama naysayers who will criticize EVERY SINGLE thing he does. Never mind the obstruction, never mind all the things he's done right.

    Vote forward this November, not backwards.

    Obama 2012

    September 3, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  10. Bio mom

    Obama had no plans to go until hours after he heard Romney was going. Politico reported this. They asked the White House and were told no plans. Then Wallace a few hours later they decided to go. They had to cancel Ohio events showing they had no plans to go. You are all being naive.

    September 3, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  11. myviewis

    Marie MD

    CNN, please really? The President is our Commander in Chief, our Leader.
    -------------------

    Excellent point and that is why it was so important for the Commander in Chief to have been in Louisiana and Mississippi days ago and not 6 days later. Of all the people in the White House or not in the White House, President Obama was needed there right after Hurricane Isaac's condition made it possible for Obama to visit such as he is the Commander in Chief and noone else holds that position. But Obama was too busy campaigning, no excuses, he could have rescheduled or just skipped his schedule to be with the victims of Louisiana and Mississippi.

    September 3, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  12. myviewis

    truth hurts

    Last I checked, President Obama was the only one of the two candidates in position to green light FEMA aid to hurricane ravaged states. What purpose did Romney's visit serve? To show he cares? Because we all KNOW he doesn't.

    Regardless, there will ALWAYS be Obama naysayers who will criticize EVERY SINGLE thing he does.
    --------------------

    President Obama, Commander in Chief, his actions speak for themselves and you can't change that, he waited to go to Louisiana and Mississippi, 6 DAYS later and he only went there this afternoon after campaigning earlier in the day, he arrived at 4:30PM.

    September 3, 2012 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  13. myviewis

    truth hurts

    Last I checked, President Obama was the only one of the two candidates in position to green light FEMA aid to hurricane ravaged states. What purpose did Romney's visit serve? To show he cares? Because we all KNOW he doesn't.

    Regardless, there will ALWAYS be Obama naysayers who will criticize EVERY SINGLE thing he does.
    --------------------

    The problem is Democrats are trying hard to excuse what President Obama chose to do and Democrats don't want to face the truth. President Obama, Commander in Chief, his actions speak for themselves and you can't change that, he waited to go to Louisiana and Mississippi, 6 DAYS later and he only went there this afternoon after campaigning earlier in the day, he arrived at 4:30PM.

    September 3, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  14. PJ

    So, did anyone else read the story that when a lady told Romney she had lost everything in the hurricane, he
    told her that there was help out there and to "go home and call 211"? Of course, she had no home to go to,
    and probably lost her phone. But he did "seem caring".

    September 3, 2012 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  15. T'sah From Virginia

    ►Marie MD
    CNN, please really? The President is our Commander in Chief, our Leader.◄
    That's right – There is only ONE President at a time and his name is Barack Obama. Romney took the jump to go there before the president and there is one difference – I didn't even see Mittens in the news when he was there; bad timing?

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward and YES, We Know You Built That – We ALL Did!!

    September 3, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  16. myviewis

    Lionel
    Obama does Care. Republicans do not. All they care about is tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
    ------------------–

    Seriously?????? The Commander in Chief just got to Louisiana today at 4:30PM after a day of campaigning.

    September 3, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  17. Swing State

    And just what is Obama going to do the day of or after the hurricane? Stop it? Become superman and drain out the flooded areas? All he needed to do is ensure the government provided the support LA required. At least he didnt fly around overhead and tell the FEMA chief they were doing a heckuva job.

    September 3, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  18. ted

    Obama is the president and whereever he goes, a lot of people and vehicles have to go. so him showing up later than Blowhard romney was wise as in the first days of cleanup, the cleanup and getting lives back on track is most important, not like Romney who was just there looking for votes. Obama was there because he is the president and he is doing the jobl.

    September 3, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  19. Thomas

    @myviewis
    truth hurts

    Last I checked, President Obama was the only one of the two candidates in position to green light FEMA aid to hurricane ravaged states. What purpose did Romney's visit serve? To show he cares? Because we all KNOW he doesn't.

    Regardless, there will ALWAYS be Obama naysayers who will criticize EVERY SINGLE thing he does.
    ------–

    The problem is Democrats are trying hard to excuse what President Obama chose to do and Democrats don't want to face the truth. President Obama, Commander in Chief, his actions speak for themselves and you can't change that, he waited to go to Louisiana and Mississippi, 6 DAYS later and he only went there this afternoon after campaigning earlier in the day, he arrived at 4:30PM.

    There you go again , you only critasize , you said the same thing with the BP oil spill . One thing is for sure , Obama has quality people working under him , not like the last guy .

    Can you say ,"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job,"

    September 3, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  20. Nuance

    There was no point in Willard showing up there as he didn't have the "necessary" authority to do anything. Gingrich had it right when he told Willard to stop with the "pious baloney".

    September 3, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  21. ET

    Obama's visit doesn't matter. Louisiana is a solid Red State. All but on Congressmen and one Senator are Republicans and will remain so after the election. Both Houses of the Legislature and virtually all of the Statewide elected positions (Governor, Lt. Governor, A.G., Secretary of State, etc, etc, et al) are also Republican. There is not one voter who has a relative in the Offshore Oil industry who doesn't remember Obama shutting down their job in 2010 when he closed the entire Gulf and cancelled leasing on the East & West Coasts. Obama did far more economic damage to Louisiana than Hurricane Isaac and paybacks are coming on November 6th.

    September 3, 2012 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  22. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    One of the jobs that the federal government is to make sure that the citzenry is safe or can be rescued from harm. FEMA does this when it comes to natural disaters. I can't believe that anyone would want to compromise that other than Ron Paul who said that during a debate (or some interview).

    September 3, 2012 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  23. Smeagel4T

    Why is Jindal looking for money from the "big bad goverment" in the first place? Why isn't he taking care of his own state with his own state's money like the Republicans keep saying they want? Republicans keep claiming its the "big bad government", but they're always first in line with their hand out asking "big bad government" for money.

    September 3, 2012 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  24. Austin

    Smeagel4T
    Why is Jindal looking for money from the "big bad goverment" in the first place? Why isn't he taking care of his own state with his own state's money like the Republicans keep saying they want? Republicans keep claiming its the "big bad government", but they're always first in line with their hand out asking "big bad government" for money.

    YOU STOLE THE WORDS OUT OF MY MOUTH.......

    September 3, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  25. GuyinVA

    What a surprise. Leftists state unequivocally that the President cares, but Gov. Romney does not. In other news, the sun announced plans to rise again tomorrow. Both sides care, AND both sides are there for political reasons as well. It does make me wonder if the lefties had the same problem when candidate Bill Clinton toured south Florida after Hurricane Andrew, and did it in the taxpayer-funded helicopter of Florida Governor Lawton Chiles. Probably not. Now, here we are, seven years after Katrina, President Obama and Governor Romney are in Louisiana, and some of the leftists are still talking about George W. Bush.

    September 3, 2012 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
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