In his final weekly address before the election, President Obama used the bully pulpit Saturday to project an image of an executive responding to a natural disaster, commanding government agencies “not to let red tape and bureaucracy get in the way of solving problems” when it comes to restoring power following Hurricane Sandy’s devastation of the Mid-Atlantic last week.
“I toured New Jersey on Wednesday with Governor Christie, and witnessed some of the terrible devastation firsthand. It’s heartbreaking. Families have lost loved ones. Entire communities have been wiped away,” he said of his visits with the New Jersey Republican governor, who just days before Hurricane Sandy struck had compared Mr. Obama to a bumbling “blind man.”
The hurricane left millions without power, many with homes flooded and property destroyed, especially in New York and New Jersey. And with boardwalks swept away and barrier islands evacuated, Mr. Christie adopted a less partisan tone as Mr. Obama mobilized the Defense Department to bring in fuel, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency brought food, water and generators.
“As President, I promise them this: Your country will be there for you for as long as it takes to recover and rebuild,” Mr. Obama said in his weekly address.
“As the storm passed, thousands of FEMA personnel were on the ground responding to those in need. And by midweek, the Department of Defense was ready to fly in cargo planes that could be loaded with trucks and equipment to help local power companies get up and running faster,” he said, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“But recovery will be a long, hard road for many communities. There’s a lot of work ahead.”
Republican presidential Mitt Romney, for his part, who has advocated for trimming federal agencies, said in a statement that state and local governments “are in the best position to get aid to the individuals and communities affected by national disasters,” but that “as president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission.”