May 22, 2013
Obama, on eve of convention, tours storm-hit Louisiana
US President Barack Obama visited Louisiana on Monday for a first-hand look at the damage from Hurricane Isaac, seeking to show his administration was on top of the relief effort on the eve of his Democrats' national convention in North Carolina.
Obama's tour was pre-empted by his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, who diverted from the campaign trail to Louisiana on Friday to inspect the fallout from the storm a day after accepting his party's nomination for the Nov. 6 election.
Flying into New Orleans, Obama traveled by motorcade to nearby St. John the Baptist Parish, one of the hardest-hit communities, to meet federal, state and local officials and assess the disaster response before surveying the area.
As he arrived on hot, sunny day, Obama saw evidence of the storm's fury - twisted road signs, toppled trees and pools of water beside the road.
The White House has taken pains to depict Obama as deeply engaged in the government's handling of Isaac and its aftermath. His Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, was heavily criticized for the sluggish federal response to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005.
Being cast in the role of consoler-in-chief could have political benefits for Obama, who is locked in a tight race with Romney and will accept his party's nomination in a prime-time speech on Thursday night in Charlotte, North Carolina. The convention begins on Tuesday.
Isaac was the first hurricane to strike the United States this year, hitting New Orleans almost exactly seven years after Katrina devastated the city, causing an estimated 1,800 deaths.
But Isaac was a much weaker storm. It was blamed for six deaths in Louisiana and two in neighboring Mississippi, and both states suffered from widespread flooding.