Obama visits flood-damaged Louisiana in show of support

From The Associated Press:

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — President Barack Obama arrived Tuesday in flood-ravaged southern Louisiana for a visit aimed at promising support to thousands of beleaguered flood victims and stemming campaign-season criticism that he’s been slow to respond to their plight.

Obama was met at the Baton Rouge airport by a bipartisan group of officials, including Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, a Republican. Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy and David Vitter also met the president on the tarmac before Obama headed to tour a neighborhood hit by the storms that killed at least 13 people and forced thousands from their homes.

The visit is a reminder of the political dangers and opportunities that natural disasters can pose. On top of a competent federal response, it’s critical for political leaders to demonstrate compassion and a reassuring sense of engagement.

Citing security concerns, the White House released few details about Obama’s itinerary in advance. But during his afternoon in Louisiana, Obama planned to tour a neighborhood in Baton Rouge Parish damaged by flooding, comfort affected residents, meet with state and local officials, and thank first-responders, the White House said.

Obama took some criticism by opting to complete his family’s two-week vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, before inspecting the flood damage personally and meeting with local residents. An editorial headline in the Baton Rouge Advocate last week read: “Our Views: Vacation or not, a hurting Louisiana needs you now, President Obama.”

The White House said Obama is willing to assume criticism about “optics” as long as the federal response is up to par.

“The survivors of the flooding in Louisiana are not well served by a political discussion; they’re well served …

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