Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Obama heading back to Gulf Coast

President Barack Obama will make another visit to the Gulf Coast next week to review efforts to contain and clean up the worst oil spill in U.S. history, the White House announced Tuesday.

Obama's Monday and Tuesday itineraries will include stops in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, three of the four states affected by the 50-day-old disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the White House announced. It will be his fourth trip to the region since the spill erupted in late April.

On Friday, Obama was in Grand Isle, Louisiana, where he met with local business leaders directly affected by the undersea gusher and huddled with regional officials involved in the response effort.

Tuesday's announcement followed Obama's blunt defense of his administration's handling of the disaster in an interview on NBC's "Today" show. Asked about complaints that his public appearances have been too cerebral and reserved, Obama said, "This is not theater."

"I don't sit around talking to experts because this is a college seminar," he said. "We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick."

Obama said that his administration's response is the largest mobilization against an environmental catastrophe in the history of the federal government and that officials understood "from day one" that the spill would be a major disaster. He said it is "tough" to see images of oil-smeared birds or meet fishermen "who are on the verge of tears," but "we just got to keep on moving."

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