August 31st, 2008
02:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama ready to mobilize campaign's network for Gustav

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Obama is mobilizing his campaign's supporters for hurricane aide."]LIMA, Ohio (CNN) - After attending church Sunday morning, Obama repeated his message to Gulf Coast residents to escape the wrath of Hurricane Gustav by evacuating, and said he would talk with officials to see if the campaign’s network of volunteers and donors can be used to help.

“There is enormous urgency in making sure that people take the evacuation seriously,” said Obama. “They are doing everything they can to execute an effective evacuation but we need people’s cooperation.”

“What we want to do is we want to find out first from folks on the ground what is going to be most helpful. We don’t want to solicit a bunch of canned goods that cant get there, or bottles of water and then learn that they already have water,” he later added. “So we are going to wait over the next 48 hours to find out what would be the most useful. I think we can get tons of volunteers to travel down there if it becomes necessary.”

“So it becomes a question of what people on the ground need and once we determine that then we can activate our email list of a couple of million people who want to give back,” he continued.

John McCain headed to the region on Saturday but Obama said he was hesitant to do the same because he was afraid of drawing away local law and emergency resources that are needed whenever he travels. McCain visited a command center in Mississippi where mandatory evacuation is not in effect and Obama said he thought it was ‘fine’ that the Arizona senator wanted to see the situation for himself.

Obama appeared more confident Saturday in preparations made for the storm than he had on Friday night, saying he had spoken to the head of FEMA who told him buses are ready to get people out, unlike when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

“There appears to be better coordination between the state and the city in Louisiana,” said Obama. “I haven’t spoken to folks in Mississippi or Alabama. It appears there is coordination between the four states that there wasn’t last time. So my hope is that we all learned from the terrible lesson that we saw after Katrina and Rita.”

Obama also called into local Gulf Coast media to further encourage listeners and viewers to evacuate, telling them that the country praying for them. He plans to speak with Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff later Sunday.

UPDATE: The campaign has posted information for Gulf Coast residents on its blog, as well as links to the Red Cross and Save the Children Web sites for supporters who want to donate.

The post tells visitors that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has declared a mandatory evacuation, gives the Louisiana emergency hotline number, and links to the state's Web site for any other emergency information needed. It also has a variety of links for Mississippi.

soundoff (164 Responses)
  1. Sacha

    It is not being a celebrity to speak about the police protecting him. As a candidate with Secret Service, their is a level of protection that is required and coordination with the local police is necessary. Either candidates, as well as the president, WILL draw resources away from the people who need it. Neither McCain or Obama need to be in the area.
    Obama 2008-2016

    August 31, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  2. Tennessee


    August 31, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  3. Len


    Not a very good thought.....He is ready to lead.

    Obama 2008

    August 31, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  4. FactCheck

    > You notice Obama never lifted a finger during Katrina.

    Sept. 2, 2005: Obama holds press conference urging Illinoisans to contribute to the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
    Sept. 5, 2005: Obama goes to Houston to visit evacuees with Presidents Clinton and Bush.
    Sept. 7, 2005: Obama introduces bill to create a national emergency family locator system
    Sept. 8, 2005: Obama introduces bill to create a National Emergency Volunteers Corps.
    Sept. 8, 2005: Obama co-sponsors the Katrina Emergency Relief Act of 2005 introduced by Senator Harry Reid
    Sept. 8, 2005: Obama co-sponsors the Hurricane Katrina Bankruptcy Relief and Community Protection Act of 2005 introduced by Senator Russ Feingold

    You Republicans must think that we are as stupid as you are.

    August 31, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  5. FactCheck

    > You notice Obama never lifted a finger during Katrina.

    Oh, and he was also invited to give the commencement speech at Xavier University in New Orleans in recognition for all that he had done for the state. You really are dumb.

    August 31, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  6. NVH

    didn't mccain get chastised for getting in the way during the flooding in the midwest? he was asked not to come there and he did anyway LOL!!

    August 31, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  7. Obama!!

    Great job Obama... unlike McCain who has to use this horrible thing for publicity and go out there and be in the way. People could be helping others instead of media ambushed there to record his stupid speech in hopes to help his campaign. If he was truely honestly concerned totally only about those people needing to be evacuated and helping he would stay out of the way and do it from afar and let the law and those already there that are organizing it do their jobs and keep the media and his political entrouge away.

    August 31, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  8. Foreign Observer

    Kate, of course the Republicans are canceling their major speeches (not their convention) - they wouldn't get a lot of coverage during the storm. C'mon, think a little.

    August 31, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  9. Gina in Chicago

    So, Obama chose NOT to go for the photo op so he's not underfoot or siphoning off law enforcement to guard him that are desperately needed to manage the situation on the ground. But he's ready with aid and wants to roll up his sleeves and help, like any good neighbor would.

    That's what I want in my president. Can't wait for November.

    Obama/Biden 08

    August 31, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  10. NVH

    i think some people on this blog are just saying ridiculous stuff to get people to react. people really can't be as dumb as some of these comments are..... can they??

    August 31, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  11. Debby, NJ

    Yet another JUDGEMENT call by the next President Of The United States !!!
    I'm waiting for my text, help is on the way...

    Obama/Biden '08/'12 🙂

    August 31, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  12. Voting for Change

    People this is definitely not the moment to focus in politics. Even though I am voting for Obama, I commend both candidates for doing what they can to ensure that our brothers and sisters in the Gulf Coast do not go through what they went with Katrina.

    August 31, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  13. Does Obama have what it takes

    I notice Pres. Bush made the same dicision not to go to N.O. for the same reason. HE DIDN"T WANT TO GET IN THE WAY.

    McCain is just trying to look like he's Pres. at the expense of people in need.

    August 31, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  14. 17 year old future politician

    I hope nobody is harmed by this event, and I commend Obama for his efforts... truely inspirational

    August 31, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
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