Obama, in La., praises Isaac response

Sept. 3, 2012 at 9:47 PM
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TOLEDO, Ohio, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- President Obama visited Louisiana Monday to pledge support for the flood-damaged area and praise response workers for their quick and efficient actions.

"I want to commend everybody who's here for the extraordinary work that they've done in making sure that lives were saved, that although there was tremendous property damage, people were in a position to get out quickly," Obama said, lamenting the "enormous devastation" wreaked by Hurricane Isaac.

"I want to particularly thank [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] and the state and local authorities, because sometimes in the past we haven't seen the kind of coordination that is necessary in response to these kinds of disasters. This time we've seen it."

Appearing in St. John the Baptist Parish with Gov. Bobby Jindal and Louisiana's U.S. senators, Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican David Vitter, Obama said federal authorities will help with debris removal, as well as providing housing for displaced people and assistance for parents to enroll their children in school.

Obama noted the Army Corps levees built around New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina "worked very well."

"When disasters like this happen, we set aside whatever petty disagreements we may have. Nobody is a Democrat or a Republican -- we're all just Americans looking out for one another," the president said.

U.S. homeland security chief Janet Napolitano Sunday promised federal aid to people and businesses ravaged by the storm.

"We are part of a team to make sure Hurricane Isaac is put to rest as soon as we can for all those affected," Napolitano said.

Seven people were reported killed in the storm -- five in Louisiana and two in Mississippi.

At least 4,000 evacuees remained in Louisiana shelters, and tens of thousands of electrical customers remained without power, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans reported.

Napolitano said people without power were victims of a nationwide weakness in electrical grids too fragile to deal with tough storms. Improving that infrastructure will be a priority as a lesson learned from Isaac, she promised.

Republican challenger Romney toured hurricane-ravaged regions of the Louisiana bayou Friday, a day after accepting his party's nomination for president.

Earlier Monday, at a rally in Toledo, Ohio, Obama hammered what he called the "playbook" of Romney, who also campaigned in Ohio after last week's Republican convention in Tampa, Fla.

Obama told a crowd of about 3,500 at Scott High School that included union autoworkers Romney "said he's going to be the coach that leads America to a 'winning season.'"

"The problem is everybody has already seen his economic playbook. We know what's in it.

"On first down," Obama said, "he hikes taxes by nearly $2,000 on the average family with kids in order to pay for a massive tax cut for multimillionaires. ... It sounds like unnecessary roughness to me.

"On second down, he calls an audible, and undoes reforms that are there to prevent another financial crisis and bank bailout," the president said. "He wants to get rid of rules that are there to protect our air and our water, and workers' rights, and protections to make sure health care is there for you when you get sick.

"And then, on third down, he calls for a Hail Mary -- ending Medicare as we know it by giving seniors a voucher that leaves them to pay any additional cost out of their pocket," Obama added. "There's a flag on the play -- loss of up to an additional $6,400 a year for the same benefits you get now."

Obama told the partisan crowd: "That's their playbook. That's their economic plan. And I've got one piece of advice for you about the Romney/Ryan game plan, Ohio: Punt it away! It won't work. It won't win the game. You don't need that coach. That's a losing season."

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