Obama to tap volunteers to help Gulf Coast

August 31, 2008

LIMA, Ohio – Democratic White House contender Barack Obama said on Sunday he would tap his e-mail list of volunteers and donors to help with the relief effort if Hurricane Gustav wreaks havoc on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

obama4.jpg“I think we can get tons of volunteers to travel down there, if it becomes necessary,” Obama told reporters after attending a church service in Lima, Ohio. “We can activate an e-mail list of a couple million people who want to give back.”

Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain flew to Mississippi to view the preparations for the storm. 

With the Republican convention scheduled to begin this week in St. Paul, Minnesota, President George W. Bush said he would not attend the that event and will instead address the assembly via satellite so he can oversee the federal response to Hurricane Gustav.

Obama said he was wary of visiting the Gulf Coast region right away because of the disruption his entourage of security officials might cause. 

But he declined to criticize McCain for his visit to Mississippi.

“I think that a big storm like this raises bipartisan concerns and I think for John to want to find out what is going on is fine,” Obama said, adding that he assumed McCain would steer clear of places where his entourage might get in the way.

The Bush administration was widely criticized as having botched the response to Hurricane Katrina three years ago.

Obama, who spoke on Saturday with David Paulison, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the agency seemed to be better positioned this time to grapple with the storm.

“Having said that, even if some of those lessons have been learned, it’s still very unpredictable what the course of the storm is going to be and what its magnitude is,” he added. 
  Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young.  Sen. Barack Obama speaks at a campaign rally in Beaver, Pennsylvania,  Aug. 29, 2008    


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Barack Obama is being very responsible on the issue of Hurricane Gustav. Obama will not exploit this tragic event politically, but will do all he can to assist in the recovery offort in the Gulf Coast. Barack Obama is showing presidential leadership.

Posted by Sheldon | Report as abusive

Just what these fleeing folks need…politics, motorcades, and endless spin clogging the roadways and airwaves in the time of an emergency. Looks like Obama is right…yet again.

Obama|Biden 08

Posted by SWMissouri | Report as abusive

Yes he is. Obama is not looking for a photo op. He’s looking to help Americans.

Posted by Mr.Unite Us | Report as abusive

The Republicans have (and should have) a collective guilt over the way they botched the Katrina horror. But to have John McCain make a trip to Jackson, MS – hundreds of miles from the probable area Gustav will hit – with his entourage of secret service and others is simply gratuitous and they are in the way. He is running for president, he is not the president, and can be of no help at this time. But, even though he isn’t any help, this never keeps him from grandstanding. Barack Obama is doing the right thing – organizing an effort that could help where and when it is most needed.

Posted by Hank | Report as abusive

Bravo for some common sense! The region is not a place for a campaign event. I believe that McCain is concerned but this trip demonstrates bad judgement and smack of political opportunism. I am really disappointed in him. The old McCain continues to morph into the very kind of politician he once criticized and despised.

Posted by FT | Report as abusive

In hopes of getting to our candidates, I have posted this email on several media sites:

Letter to Senator Obama and Senator McCain,

In the next 36 hours, many Americans who are alive today will have died in a major hurricane. The level of personal loss and sadness will be enormous. Regardless of party, your political posturing during such a grave period of time is morally corrupt and disgraceful. I would highly recommend that you both act like Americans and forget your political affiliations for a week as the country deals with this disaster. Quite frankly, whether or not either of you are elected in two months pales in comparison to the tremendous heartache and loss that is about to be inflicted upon our land. Please quit trying to one-up each other on your leadership during this disaster. Neither one of you are value added right now and your help might be more effective off camera.

Posted by Don C | Report as abusive

I know that Obama will and can produce the volunteers if needed.
He is more capable and experenced than most of his critics think.
He has lived his experience helping others.

Posted by Juliana E Trotman | Report as abusive

Once again, Obama is making the right judgement.
There is nothing to be gained by grandstanding
in Jackson, MS except publicity for John McCain
and Sarah Palin. They bring to mind the ambulance
chasers who rush to gawk at a train wreck.

Obama has offered the right kind of help to be
given at the appropriate time. Obama has run his
campaign with dignity while McCain continues to
to come across as a confused and frustrated brat.

Posted by Leigh | Report as abusive

Instead of “tapping volunteers”, Obama, why don’t you head south and fill a few sandbags yourself. Think of the mileage you could get from that photo-op!

Posted by Sara | Report as abusive