Last month, President Obama visted New Orleans for the first time since taking office and touted his administration’s focus on assisting the area’s still on-going recovery effort four years after Hurricane Katrina. “I’m pleased to report that we’ve made good progress,” he said. “We’ve got a long way to go, but we’ve made progress.”
But conservatives such as Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) criticized Obama’s visit calling it a “drive-through daiquiri summit,” while others “criticized the president for not touring the battered wetlands.”
Yesterday during an interview with Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) — the lone Republican to vote for the House health care bill last week — Washington Times radio channeled the GOP criticism. “He didn’t even stick around very long during his trip,” the host said. But Cao defended what the administration has done for the area:
CAO: Well, I just want to set the record straight, that even though the President only visited New Orleans once since his election, it was a brief stay, but this administration has been tremendous for the people of the 2nd district. Secretary Napolitano has been down here three or four times, the secretary of HUD, the secretary of Education, they have been down here numerous times. [...]
So I guess for me, it’s not that important to have the visit of the President, its much more important for me that I have a good working relationship with the administration and have the commitment…from the administration to push all the recovery issues of the 2nd District forward and they have been doing that in the last 9 months.
Paul Rainwater, the executive director of the state-run Louisiana Recovery Authority, agrees with Cao’s approach. “I would say it’s more important to have your cabinet secretaries down here,” he said last month. Indeed, the White House said there were 22 visits by senior administration officials to the area from March to August, 13 of them by cabinet secretaries.