Entries in New Orleans (4)


Full 2007 Video Emerges of Then-Senator Obama Claiming Federal Discrimination Against New Orleans

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On the eve of the first presidential debate, the conservative website The Daily Caller Tuesday circulated previously unreported clips of a five-year-old speech in which then-Senator Barack Obama gave a "shout-out" to his controversial former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and suggested the federal government discriminated against the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

“I’ve got to give a special shout-out to my pastor. The guy who puts up with me. Counsels me. Listens to my wife complain about me. He’s a friend. And a great leader,” the president said of Wright in an address to the Hampton University Annual Ministers’ Conference in Hampton, Va., in June 2007 in video posted by The Daily Caller and first aired on Fox News.

ABC News ran a clip in a March 2008 piece on World News Tonight with Charles Gibson. At the time, prepared remarks of Obama’s speech were released by the campaign and a local newspaper posted a nine-minute edited video of the address. What ABC News and many others, including The Daily Caller founder Tucker Carlson, covered at the time was based on that edited video and the prepared remarks.

As ABC News reported at the time, Obama implied the Bush administration had ignored what he called “quiet riots” in the United States -- serious instances of poverty and hopelessness that had gone unaddressed by the federal government.

But the full version of the speech, posted on The Daily Caller website Tuesday evening, shows Obama taking that argument a step further, suggesting the federal government overlooked the needs of residents of New Orleans suffering in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, as opposed to victims of other disasters in other parts of the country.

“Down in New Orleans, where they still have not rebuilt 20 months later,” Obama says, “there’s a law, federal law -- when you get reconstruction money from the federal government -- called the Stafford Act. And basically it says, when you get federal money, you’ve got to give a 10 percent match. The local government’s got to come up with 10 percent. Every 10 dollars the federal government comes up with, local government’s got to give a dollar."

“Now here’s the thing, when 9/11 happened in New York City, they waived the Stafford Act --" he said, "‘This is too serious a problem. We can’t expect New York City to rebuild on its own. Forget that dollar you got to put in. Well, here’s 10 dollars.’ And that was the right thing to do. When Hurricane Andrew struck in Florida, people said, ‘Look at this devastation. We don’t expect you to come up with y’own money, here. Here’s the money to rebuild. We’re not going to wait for you to scratch it together -- because you’re part of the American family.’ … What’s happening down in New Orleans? Where’s your dollar? Where’s your Stafford Act money? Makes no sense. Tells me that somehow, the people down in New Orleans they don’t care about as much.”

Carlson told Fox Tuesday night the clips were evidence the then-candidate was “whipping up race hatred and fear. Period.”

The clips, which were hyped online throughout the day by Fox News and conservative blogger Matt Drudge, were billed as something the “left wing press has been hiding since 2007.”

“That is racial rhetoric designed to make people fearful,” Carlson told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “This is the opposite of what a uniter does, this is what a demagoguer does, and it’s wrong.”

At a different point in the speech, Obama suggests there was no racial animus afoot when it came to how the government responded to Hurricane Katrina.

“People ask me whether I thought race was the reason the response was so slow,” Obama said. “I said, ‘No. This administration was colorblind in its incompetence.’ But everyone here knows the disaster and the poverty happened long before that hurricane hit. All the hurricane did was make bare what we ignore each and every day, which is that there are whole sets of communities that are impoverished, that don’t have meaningful opportunity, that don’t have hope and they are forgotten. This disaster was a powerful metaphor for what’s gone on for generations.”

In response, the Obama campaign said the release of the clips are a “transparent attempt” by “Mitt Romney’s allies” to change the subject from the GOP nominee’s secretly recorded comments that 47 percent of voters are dependent and believe “they are victims.”

“The only thing shocking about this is that they apparently think it’s wrong to suggest that we should help returning veterans, children leaving foster care and other members of Mitt Romney’s 47 percent get training that will allow them to find the best available jobs.  If the Romney campaign believes that Americans will accept these desperate attacks tomorrow night in place of specific plans for the middle class, it’s they who are in for a surprise,” campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a written statement.

Then-Sen. Obama throughout 2007 criticized the federal government for not waiving the requirement of 10 percent matching funds for FEMA dollars for Gulf Coast states.

In July 2007, he said before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, “Before last summer, the Stafford Act, I think, was just an abstract law for many of us. We had had some experiences, obviously, with hurricanes or with tornadoes and floods in Illinois, but nothing compared to what happened on Aug. 29, 2005, when Katrina made landfall.  So now it is our responsibility to determine what we can do to insure that the Stafford Act and the agencies that implement it have the flexibility and resources they need to respond to the next Katrina."

“I just completed my first trip to New Orleans last week and was astonished by what I saw,” he continued. “No matter how many times you hear about it, no matter how many times you see it on the news, no matter how many times you meet folks who have no home to return to, nothing prepares you for the terrible reality and scope of the devastation."

“I asked the folks there how we in the Senate can help,” he continued. “They had had almost a year to think about it. They had some good answers. One thing that they asked was that the Stafford Act establish a magnitude of disaster above major disaster level. They suggested a catastrophic disaster designation that could provide the long-term resources and assistance that such a disaster would require.  They asked for an increased federal share in paying for emergency work, work such as the clearance and removal of debris and temporary restoration of essential public services. After Katrina, homeowners were forced to pay for debris cleanup because FEMA wouldn’t foot the bill.  They asked for changes in housing assistance. Clearly, FEMA was not equipped to address the housing needs of the displaced. We need to fix that problem in any reauthorization of the Stafford Act.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney to Visit Areas Damaged by Hurricane Isaac

John Moore/Getty Images(LAKELAND, Fla.) -- In a last minute change of plans, Mitt Romney will head to visit storm affected areas in Louisiana on Friday, skipping a previously scheduled joint rally with Paul Ryan in the battleground state of Virginia Friday afternoon.

A Romney aide told ABC News that Romney will “join [Lousiana] Gov. [Bobby] Jindal and will meet with first responders, thank them for their work and see areas impacted by the storm in LaFitte, La.”

Jindal cancelled his plans earlier this week to attend the Republican National Convention after Hurricane Isaac moved up the Gulf Coast and wreaked damage across Louisiana.  There have so far been two reported deaths in Louisiana as a result of the storm and widespread damage and flooding.  The storm hit on the seven-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

The Romney campaign had been working to determine how they could visit the region throughout the week, and made the announcement on Friday.  It's also the same day that Romney was outfitted with his new campaign plane.  The trip to Louisiana will be its maiden voyage.

Later on Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney announced aboard Air Force One that President Obama will visit Louisiana on Monday to meet with officials and those impacted by the hurricane.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gingrich Talks Politics at the Zoo

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) — Newt Gingrich made a campaign stop at the Audubon Zoo on Friday and took the opportunity to hit Mitt Romney for his negative attack ads credited for bringing down Gingrich’s lead in the polls earlier this year.

Among the flamingos a lady told Gingrich she voted for him. “Please save our country,” another lady says.

Gingrich toured the elephant exhibit with zoo director Ron Forman and talked about the election while walking from the monkeys to the animatronic dinosaur exhibit.

Gingrich told Forman that he feels like he’s playing “catch-up” every day and that both he and Santorum are enduring attacks from Romney.

“With both Santorum and me, he’s now confused as to who he is attacking,” Gingrich said. “It’s his only technique. I tell people he’s like a 4-foot-8 guy who wants to play center and his only technique is to shrink the others, which I think bodes very badly for a general election.”

Gingrich was asked if the race would go all the way to the convention.

“Well it depends, if we are successful and he doesn’t have an absolute–if he doesn’t have 1,000 delegates, I mean you know, if he’s close, attrition will get him the last 100,” Gingrich said. “But if he’s under 1,000 delegates, I don’t think he’s going to get the nomination.”

Gingrich told Forman the election process has been “a little bit like you after the hurricane.”

“It’s more difficult and challenging than I thought it would be, but the direction is right and you can feel it beginning to work,” Gingrich said.

Before entering into the animatronic dinosaur exhibit, Gingrich said neither Santorum nor Romney want to debate him.

Gingrich finished up his zoo visit among the moving T-Rex and triceratops dinosaurs. An avid fan of dinosaurs, Gingrich got in the face of one of the moving creatures as it roared. He left the building with a big smile on his face.

“This is why I’m not afraid of taking on Washington, after taking on dinosaurs they aren’t scary,” Gingrich said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Louisiana Rep. Richmond: Let BP Drill Again in the Gulf

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Word that BP is seeking to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico presents a challenge for the Obama administration, which is seeking to increase domestic oil production even as the Justice Department mulls possible criminal charges against the company in connection with an accident investigation that’s still ongoing.

But on Rep. Cedric Richmond -- a Democrat who represents New Orleans in Congress -- tells ABC News it’s important not to “penalize BP for the incident” by denying the company the right to drill, provided the company goes through the proper permitting process.”

“They should be able to drill, as long as they follow the same rules that everybody else is following,” Richmond, D-La., said. “We don't want to penalize BP for the incident. We want them to, of course, make citizens whole that were affected, and we'll never forget that we lost 11 lives in that incident.

“So we don't want a repeat of it, which is why the permitting process has been revamped and they're making sure that the safeguards are in place so we don't have another Horizon accident. … If BP can make it through that then I think they should be allowed to drill.”

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Monday denied reports in the British press that BP has already reached a deal with the U.S. government to resume drilling. But he made clear that BP will be allowed to resume operations in the Gulf if and when the company shows that it will be able to comply with new regulations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio