(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama in Baton Rouge, La., on Tuesday to survey the damage of flood waters from heavy rain in the state said he is not worried about his trip being politicized.
“No, I don’t,” the president said. “First of all, one of the benefits of being five months short of leaving here is I don’t worry too much about politics.
“The second thing I have seen historically is that when disasters strike, that’s probably one of the few times where Washington tends not to get political. I guarantee you nobody on this block, none of those first responders, nobody gives a hoot whether you’re Democrat or Republican,” Obama said.
“What they care about is making sure they’re getting the drywall out and the carpet out and there’s not any mold building, and they get some contractors in here, and they start rebuilding as quick as possible. That’s what they care about,” he said.
“That’s what I care about, so we want to make sure that we do it right,” Obama said. “We want to make sure that we do it systematically.”
The president repeatedly praised the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its director Craig Fugate.
“If you think about the number of significant natural disasters that have occurred since my presidency began, you’d be hard-pressed to find a local official anywhere in the country – including those in the other party - who wouldn’t say that Craig Fugate and his team have been anything less than exemplary and professional,” Obama said.
“And one of the things I did when I walked through each of these homes was ask, have you contacted FEMA? Have you filed?” he said. “And uniformly, they said that they had been in touch with FEMA. They had acted professionally. Some of them had already been out here for inspections, and I think that does indicate why it’s important for us to take the federal government seriously, federal workers seriously,” Obama said.
The president said people tend to bash federal workers and consider them “faceless bureaucrats.”
“There’s a tendency sometimes or us to bash them and to think that they’re these faceless bureaucrats, but when you get into trouble, you want somebody who knows what they’re doing, who’s on the ground working with outstanding officials, and that’s true whatever party,” Obama said.
“And I could not be prouder of the work that FEMA’s done. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to still be folks that need more help and that we’re not going to have some constraints statutorily and Congress isn’t going to have to step up, but it does mean that the basic backbone, the basic infrastructure and architecture that we have in terms of disaster response I think has been high quality, and I’m very proud of them for that, and I want to publicly acknowledge that at the moment,” he said.