President Obama will visit New Orleans on Thursday for the first time since taking office, to address rebuilding efforts in the city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina four years ago.
During his trip, Obama will visit a charter school and host a town hall meeting to hear residents’ concerns, the White House said. The president’s visit will focus on efforts to help rebuild the Gulf Coast, including cutting red tape and easing funding so residents can become self-sufficient. “The president made a promise to come to New Orleans and wanted to fulfill that promise as soon as his schedule allowed,” said Nicholas Shapiro, White House spokesman. Though this is Obama’s first trip there while in office, he has been to New Orleans five times since Katrina, Shapiro said. Some local Republicans have decried Obama’s visit as too short. “In order for President Obama to gain a full understanding of the challenges we are facing in our recovery, he needs to extend his planned visit to New Orleans,” Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, said at a news conference Monday. Watch preview of president’s trip “There is a big difference between campaigning here as a political candidate and spending quality time here as the president. … The people of New Orleans deserve more than a ‘drive-through daiquiri’ summit with the president.”
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Shapiro said the administration is committed to helping Gulf Coast residents, and has ensured financial assistance to the area. “More than $1 billion in Recovery Act money has been targeted for New Orleans, funding almost 1,000 projects — work on roads, bridges, Army Corps construction, schools, health centers and more,” he said.
Obama also will dispatch senior administration members, including three Cabinet officials, to city events on Thursday, according to the White House. From Louisiana, Obama will head to San Francisco, California, for a fundraiser.