Charges of politics surround visits to hurricane damage
September 3rd, 2012
09:26 PM ET
6 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. difoderit


    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.

    ET – your stupidity is astonishing – let me guess you and your nutjob "relitives" were the first one's screaming that Presedent Obama didn't handle the BP oilspill disaster quickly enough – go ahead vote against your best intersests – that is if you are even intelligent enough to push the button

    September 3, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  2. luke,az


    September 4, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  3. Kathleen Farrell

    It would make absolutely no sense for a president to show up at a disaster when officials should be responding, not utlizing precious personnel to escort the president, manage crowds, etc. That's why the president typically waits until things are under control and the assessing has begun. The last thing you need is a suit showing up in the middle of mayhem. And yes, Romney is the last thing we need.

    September 4, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  4. J.V.Hodgson

    The only thing that matters in this whole question is Para 5. If that is accurate, nothing else needs to said or discussed. That said and it not intended as criticism but a reality
    Romneys's visit could only be for moral support and a possible learning curve of of how FEMA resources have helped or not.
    Obama has the edge simply because he is president and can talk to jindal and other locals in charge and ask if Fema is doing enough of what they want and need if not he cn then use his presidential staus to get Fema off its Butt and do something.
    QED both sides doing what they can is the story... no need for the rest of the political commentary nonsense other than para 5 true or not. Judging by Buchs response it is clearly true.

    September 4, 2012 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  5. Thomas

    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.

    So what your saying is that the profit for big oil comes first before the safety of the people and the environment.
    I'm glad your not President . Corporations are people to my friend , until your of no use to them !

    September 4, 2012 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  6. mikeA

    you know, i have gone looking for images of Pres Obama actually speaking with the victims, they all seem to be kept at bay. every picture i see he is surrounded by political wing men, with actual citizens kept far away. ...and he got there 6 days and 3 campaign stops later.
    in the pictures i have seen of romney, he is right there, talking with people, listening to them, making a human connection.

    September 4, 2012 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  7. Tim

    All this bantering isn't going to change anyone's mind. I'm still voting Obama, and no one will change that. Period. Let's all just see what happens on 11/6/12. Then you can let the bantering begin!

    September 4, 2012 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  8. Sirned

    Republican states have no idea how awful their policies will be if Romney gets elected. They have absolutely no clue...Fox makes sure of that.

    September 4, 2012 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  9. aaron

    These Repubs can dish it out, but have a hissy fit when it's dished back at them.

    September 4, 2012 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  10. scott

    Of course it is political, Obama cares nothing for the people themselves only their votes, Unlike Romney and Ryan who have a genuine desire to help the middle class. We are sooooo tired of Obama and his deceitful and lying ways. Go back to Chicago and organize yard sales like you were before.

    September 4, 2012 04:48 am at 4:48 am |
  11. tannergpost

    Twenty three trillion dollars, including Romney's millions, are parked offshore in hidden accounts and investments. It is the citizens of America's money, to be used, invested and saved in the USA by the earners of the money. If that money was circulating in the American economy, the sixteen trillion dollars deficit would be wiped out overnight. Why can't Republicans see that killing of the poor and elderly also kills the middle class and professionals. When that happens, America is dead.

    September 4, 2012 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  12. yeefunn

    myviewis: What did you expect Obama to do? Lasso the hurricane when it was in the gulf and ride it in?

    September 4, 2012 05:03 am at 5:03 am |
  13. The fact is

    Why fussed about the visits. The President has the duty to examine the condition of a natural disaster area and accesses the need for the appropriate helps. That is how the government functions. Like it or not, it was nice for him to make the visit. He did his job.

    September 4, 2012 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  14. The fact is

    Why criticize a president's visit to a natural disaster area? Would you praise him if he didn't make the trip? Ridiculous!

    September 4, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  15. Marie MD

    @myview is – you have got to be a plant from the fip flopping campaign. Your twists and lies and half truths stink of the bully bishop's and the lying altar boy campaign.
    At lerast the President didn't fly over like your boy the shrub #43 did. Your flip flopper was in Florida a few miles from LA then he went into hiding for the weekend to regroup after a so-so convention.
    Anybody who is outshined by an empty wooden chair is in trouble!

    September 4, 2012 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  16. Russ in Md.

    The hypocrisy from the left is in full swing today. I can just imagine the HATE blogs if Gov. Romney did not go to Louisiana. It might be funny if it wasn't so sad. Let’s reclaim what America once was and kick this buffoon out.

    September 4, 2012 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  17. obama is Out Of Touch with reality

    be it known, that obama thinks he can walk on water and he does no wrong, but what obama doesnt understand that there is a growing hatred for him, his administration and his destructive policies, it may be that obama thinks and yes I said thinks he is smarter, but that is not true. obama is dumber than most of the rocks in the hills and if he get reelected, what the judge in texas said may just come true, but if obama is losing, expect this country to go to war, have martial law activated and possibly the elections put on hold so obama can retain power. just watch, obama has a plan to stay in control any way he can. Americans, prepare for you life and your freedoms to be taken away by obama.

    September 4, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  18. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Why should we waste money on a racist confederate slave state who no matter how much the GOP tramples upon, still turn around and vote republican anyway. And besides, we don't have any government HANDOUTS to give to Louisiana, except for the decent minorities in the state. In 2009, Governor Jindel said Louisiana didn't need any government stimulus, though the people of that state were struggling severely as a result of the economic crisis the GOP caused. However, when the oil spill in the Gulf a year ago affected local businesses, Governor Jindel was the first to complain that much needed government aid was not forthcoming. Then he had the audacity to accuse the President of not doing anything to help the people of Louisiana. Stinking shemeless republicans!

    September 4, 2012 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  19. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I remember all the racist right wing comments about blacks in Louisiana not evacuating because they were looking for government handouts or were planning to stay in the city to loot. However, so far the majority of the people who ended up being stranded in their homes and had to be rescued were whites. Then I supposed those whites were just waiting for government handouts and it appears that they refused to evacuate the town because they were planning to loot. I never trust a hillbilly anyway.

    September 4, 2012 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  20. Carlos Murphy

    Republicans are masochists?

    Please let me scream that George Bush hates us – and vote for him again?

    September 4, 2012 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  21. zanny

    Those two men do not even know what their policies are. It seems Ryan's budget continually jumps up and bites him. I hope American voters remember the attempt last year to cut off relief for victims. They demanded budget cuts to cover the disaster relief. It seems Eric Cantor's big mouth was the spokesman for that but Paul Ryan was there too. So for them to even attempt to go to the relief areas and offer support is a joke and a hypocrisy, as are many things they say and do.

    September 4, 2012 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  22. Ed1

    And I didn't think the Democrats could get any lower but I was wrong what a bunch of thugs they are just like their Union buddies.

    September 4, 2012 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  23. chill

    I notice that despite all the harumphing from Romney, he didn't deny that Ryan and by endorsement Romney would cut funding to FEMA. In an era that is destined to be ht by more and more fierce storms as a esult of global warming adding energy to the atmosphere, the last thing we need to cut is FEMA.

    September 4, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  24. Anders Perillo

    Political or not, Romney made Obama look like a chump. Rightly so, as the "empty chair" so eloquently depicts.

    September 4, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  25. Pete

    Just remember republicans it was your Eric Cantor that refused giving emergency assistence to states hit hard by the floods years ago in the northeast,his state included wanting equal cuts in his plan for equal state assistence,they finally backed down ,remember that hypocrites..

    September 4, 2012 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
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