NEW ORLEANS – Intent on showing firm command of the deepening crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama flew to coastal Louisiana Friday for his second in-person update of the devastating oil spill.
Criticism of Obama is rising as crude continues to gush out of the leak 38 days after the oil rig exploded and sank. Amid fears the crisis that is endangering the Gulf region's wildlife and economy could soon also engulf his presidency, Obama has launched a campaign to step up public engagement and directly confront the public's anger.
A day earlier, he held a rare White House news conference to address the matter, saying "I take responsibility" for handling what is now considered the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.
On Friday, he interrupted a Memorial Day weekend stay with his family at their Chicago home for the Gulf visit, with his first stop a beach south of New Orleans where protective booms have been set up to keep oil from washing ashore. The president was then traveling to the U.S. Coast Guard Station in nearby Grand Isle, La., to attend a briefing by Adm. Thad Allen of the Coast Guard, who is overseeing the spill response for the federal government. Obama was being joined there by the governors of Louisiana, Florida and Alabama. He was spending about three hours in the region.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — President Barack Obama is the Gulf Coast, ready for a firsthand look at the devastating oil spill and a briefing on how to clean it up.
Obama touched down at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport at midmorning local time.
He plans to tour a beach with Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen and visit with local officials. Obama's visit comes a day after a White House news conference where he asserted responsibility over the spill. The trip was designed to demonstrate his engagement.
Obama arrived 38 days into the disaster, as BP worked to plug the leak with heavy mud. That procedure is expected to continue for a couple days before its outcome is clear.