August 31st, 2008
08:30 AM ET
15 years ago

Obama and Biden urge Gulf Coast evacuation

DUBLIN, Ohio (CNN) – Barack Obama and Joe Biden urged Gulf Coast residents to evacuate as Hurricane Gustav bears down on the region.

"Even if you've ridden out this storm before, even if you think that it may pass over, even if you think that you can wait until the last minute, this is going to be, potentially, very, very serious," said Obama, in a hastily assembled press conference in front of their campaign bus in Central Ohio. "For your own safety and your family's safety, people have to follow the instructions of the officials there to make sure that this evacuation is going smoothly."

Obama spoke to officials including FEMA Director R. David Paulison, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Saturday and said he was passing along their message to evacuate. Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans Saturday, calling Gustav "the storm of the century."

Biden also spoke directly to those in the storm's path, telling them to get out of town to avoid weather that may be worse than Hurricane Katrina three years ago.

"Those folks who rode out, do not ride out again, ride out of town. Get out of town. Do what the governor is suggesting, what the mayor is suggesting, what the senators are suggesting. Get out of town," said Biden.

Obama says they're monitoring the situation and urged continued cooperation between FEMA and the Gulf Coast states, noting that not just Louisiana is likely going to be affected but Mississippi, Alabama and parts of Texas.

Word came late Saturday that John McCain would visit an emergency command post in Jackson, Mississippi on Sunday. Asked if he would visit the area, Obama said that because of the large number of staff and press traveling with him, he might be a distraction.

"I will do whatever is required that is useful but right now the main thing that's useful is letting everybody out there know, please evacuate the area," said Obama.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Joe Biden
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Katrina

    Obama has the most amazing young volunteer force in the history of US politics. Perhaps he could send a bunch of them down there to help out after the storm hits - they good young people, and eager to do good.

    August 31, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  2. Hopeful Floridian

    Now that is a true statesman! Not wanting to distract people from the task at hand. When will everyone wake up and realize that Obama is the best choice for America's future?

    Obama/Biden 08

    August 31, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  3. kobs

    Please get to safety and my god be with all of you.

    August 31, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  4. AJ in Fla

    What an smart decision...!!!!!!!! I'mpressed

    August 31, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  5. Anonymous

    now the GOP will use this to go in the area, an get some media attention.

    August 31, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  6. Chipster

    "...because of the large number of staff and press traveling with him, he might be a distraction."

    Once again, showing better judgment than McCain.

    August 31, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  7. David from San Diego

    WRONG MOVE: "Word came late Saturday that John McCain would visit an emergency command post in Jackson, Mississippi on Sunday."

    RIGHT MOVE: "Asked if he would visit the area, Obama said that because of the large number of staff and press traveling with him, he might be a distraction."

    There is going to be enough chaos in the area. Another inappropriate decision by McCain.

    August 31, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  8. T'SAH from Virginia

    That's right OBAMA/BIDEN – tell them like it is!!! YOU"RE really not about PANDERING and it makes sense to STAY out of the areas of concern until later.... Instead – visit the places where the people were moved to and talk to them! Let them know you're behind them 100% and things will be okay.

    OBA-DEN 2008-2016 – YES WE CAN!!!

    August 31, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. Ty

    On the job already! Go boys!


    August 31, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  10. Mike in Houston

    I feel so much better with Obama "monitoring the situation". I'm sure his community organizer experience will really make a difference.

    Another democratic catastrophie in the making.

    August 31, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  11. Anna

    Thank you Future President Obama and Furture Vice President Biden.

    You are already great leaders.

    Obama/Biden 08

    August 31, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  12. A CANUCK

    If Obama goes to the area....he wil be accused of politicking.....if he doesn't go.....they'll say he doesn't care.....he's between arock and a hard him to do the right thing.....he has a good heart.

    August 31, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |

    His statement again shows you that he is a caring person and definitely THE BEST PICK ever. YOU ROCK "BARACK".

    August 31, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  14. brian

    That's a smart move by Obama. Don't turn this into some huge political charade...just make sure people are safe.

    August 31, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  15. Obama/Biden all the way

    Thank you Sen. Obama for having the good sense to stay away and not make this some kind of political opportunity. Sen. McCain seems to think this is a photo opportunity. Doesn't he understand the resources that will have to be in place for his visit? And why would he put the lives of his new vp candidate and her children (including a 4 month old infant) in harm's way. Not to mention the people who might stay behind in order to get a glimpse of a presidential candidate or a photo with him. John McCain just doesn't get it. It's not about him, it's about the people of the USA.

    August 31, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  16. Coastal Paradise

    Praying for everybody effected by this storm! I worked for Katrina displaced people here in Nashville at the Air Force hangers. It was a very emotional and shocking time and I was glad to be of help for other people.

    It is a hit to the heart to listen to Fowler and Pratt on a plane laughing about the storm hitting on the RNC opening date. You need to watch it. Go to Michelle Malkin or google it. It will help you understand.

    All the best to NOLA, get out please, we can help you better if you do.

    August 31, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  17. Sherry, Atlanta



    OBAMA'BIDEN '08-'12

    August 31, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  18. someone

    funny what a disaster can do. When he was asked to attend a rally in New Orleans he declined and now because he wants the votes he is tryng to make people think he cares. Where was Hillary? Where she had to b, with them. Hillary was the true winner. Like Sara said with grace she was the woman who made people stop and believe again. Sara you will compliment and be a great VP . It is your turn. McCain is a real hero and patriot. Might be a distraction for Obama to visit.

    McCain/Palin 08

    August 31, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  19. linda from South Dakota

    people there need to take this advice,,,, this is a very serious storm,, as hit once before,, and baseing on how bad it was before,, go,, get out,, seek safety now!!!!!!

    August 31, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  20. Ron

    here he goes again why does he always state the obvious like people sitting over coffee couldn't make the same observation. no solutions just we have to get them out of there again he's second off the line it was already in motion before the thought even crossed his mind

    August 31, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  21. Pam

    So McCain has already picked up Bush's hunger for photo-ops. Authorities have enough to do down there without having to worry about McCain's security.

    August 31, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  22. jdm

    Great judgement again!
    Do you know how many people OB and Mcain have with them!
    We need people to leave, not more people going!
    Mcain and what's her name are still trying visit! WOW

    August 31, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. Dany

    Well say senator. May god bless you

    August 31, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  24. independentmind

    well,at least they are not 'running' into the area,with a bunch of cameramen following them around taking photo ops.authorities don't need them down there compounding their efforts to evacuate.same as the floods in iowa ,this summer,where mccain was asked to stay away,but,he went anyway for the pictures. obama did as the governor asked, and instead went where he could be of help sandbagging in illinois. now,you tell me who it is that wants to appear like a celebrity.

    August 31, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  25. Cheri

    As usual John McCain will be there trying to pander some votes.Obama is right it would be a distraction to show up there.The main thing is for preperations to continue without the distractions of the presidential hopefuls showing up.

    August 31, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
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