Obama to tap volunteers to help Gulf Coast
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.
“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