ST. PAUL, MINN--Stumping in Ohio on Sunday, Barack Obama said he is ready to use his vast e-mail list of backers to help victims of Hurricane Gustav, including raising cash.
"What we want to do is we want to find out first from folks on the ground what is going to be most helpful," Obama said.
"We don't want to solicit a bunch of canned goods that cant get there, or bottles of water and then learn that they already have water. So we are going to wait over the next 48 hours to find out what would be the most useful. I think we can get tons of volunteers to travel down there if it becomes necessary.
"So it becomes a question of what people on the ground need and once we determine that then we can activate our e-mail list of a couple of million people who want to give back."
BO: all of us I think are thinking right now about the Gulf and just to reiterate what I said yesterday, there is enormous urgency in making sure that people take the evacuation seriously. I talked to LT governor Mitch this morning, they are doing everything they can to execute an effective evacuation but we need peoples cooperation. That is the message that I am going to be sending throughout the day. It is an enormously destructive thing obviously for the families there, you know kids are already back in school and to have to go through this is very difficult but it is something that we have to do and we just hope that by the time this storm hits land that it has dissipated somewhat. Right now that doesn't appear to be the case, but we are going to keep on monitoring the situation. (inaudible) since we've got a network of volunteers, donors all across the country is to try to coordinate with officials to figure out what will be most useful if we can get volunteers, if we can get donations where they can be directed, we probably won't know entirely who needs the most help and what is the best way to do it without getting in peoples way until we actually see what happens over the next 48 hours.
Q and A:
Q: Senator Obama do you think that John McCain's visit down there is actually appropriate? Do you think it is the right thing to go?
BO: I think that with a big storm like this raises bipartisan concerns and I think for John to want to find out what is going on is fine. The thing that I always is concerned about in the middle of the storm is whether we are drawing resources away from folks on the ground, because the secret service and various security requirements sometimes it pulls police and fire and other departments away from concentrating on the job. I am assuming that where he went that wasn't an issue and we are going to try to stay clear of the area until things have settled down and then we will probably try to figure out how we can be as helpful as possible.
Q: Senator do you think the Bush administration is well enough prepared (inaudible)
BO: well I spoke to FEMA director Paulison yesterday and he seemed confident about having positioned for example buses on the ground ahead of time as opposed to waiting after the storm to try to get buses in. there appears to be better coordination between the state and the city in Louisiana. I haven't spoken to folks in Mississippi or Alabama. It appears there is coordination between the four states that there wasn't last time. So my hope is that we all learned from the terrible lesson that we saw after Katrina and Rita. Having said that even if some of those lessons have been learned it is still very unpredictable what the course of the storm is going to be or what its magnitude is and this is always going to be difficult.
Q: Senator what would you say is the key for you to carry OH this year?
BO: I think the key to carrying OH is the same to the key of carrying the rest of the country, which is making clear what the choice is for voters. John McCain, I have said before, has served our country with distinction but he wants to continue the policies of George W Bush, on the two most important issues facing the country, on the economy and what we do with Iraq and Afghanistan. John McCain wants to continue on the same course that we have been on and that is a failed course. It has not produced the kind of job growth or income growth that we saw in the 90's, it has not provided healthcare to people who are struggling, it hasn't stopped jobs from being shipped overseas. And so it is hard to imagine that taking the same set of policies that we have seen over the last 8 eight years is going to produce different results. And we are promising, and I believe can deliver, a very different vision for how the country grows with investment in clean energy, making sure our healthcare system is fixed and that we lower costs, making college more affordable, thinking about the day to day struggles that middle class and working class families are going through, that I think will be a key to the election. If I can make that case effectively than I think we are going to win.
Q: Senator what (inaudible) (will you be reaching out to your million donors after the hurricane for financial support)
BO: what we want to do is we want to find out first from folks on the ground what is going to be most helpful. We don't want to solicite a bunch of canned goods that cant get there, or bottles of water and then learn that they already have water. So we are going to wait over the next 48 hours to find out what would be the most useful. I think we can get tons of volunteers to travel down there if it becomes necessary. So it becomes a question of what people on the ground need and once we determine that then we can activate our email list of a couple of million people who want to give back.
Q: Could that include cash
Q: Senator what is your mess in terms of west (inaudible) Ohio
BO: jobs and economic growth that we have to have a white house that is thinking day in, day out about how we are going to bring jobs back to the Midwest and the heartland that has lost so many with the weakening of the auto industry manufacturing. Not all those same jobs are going to come back, what we are going to do is bring back new jobs. I have been talking a lot about clean energy, that I think has enormous potential if we are investing in wind and solar and biodiesel and I am talking about 15 billion dollars a year. If we are coordinating with community colleges to train people for the jobs of the future, if we are rebuilding our infrastructure, roads, bridges but also high speed rail, broadband line, revamping our electricity grid, these are all strategies that can create well paying jobs that cant be outsourced and that will lift people's incomes, revitalize these towns, that has to be our strategy for the future and unfortunately for the last 8 years we have not seen that kind of consistent strategy coming out of the white house that is going to be there when I am president.