We’re glad that both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, visited Louisiana to assess damage from Hurricane Isaac.
Louisiana is widely considered solidly in Romney’s corner as the GOP presidential nominee tries to unseat Obama. Few would consider his post-Isaac visit here to be a play for Louisiana votes. Obama had little reason to court Louisiana voters, either.
But as the leader of the nation, Obama had an obligation, we believe, to see Isaac’s damage for himself — and to assure residents of federal support for recovery efforts. The botched federal response to Hurricane Katrina, which happened on the watch of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, underscored the need for a swift federal focus on the aftermath of Isaac.
Romney has no official capacity in guiding recovery efforts from Isaac, but we’re happy that he visited Louisiana after Isaac, too. His presence helped direct national attention to the storm’s aftermath. Any visit to Louisiana by a presidential nominee is a good opportunity, we believe, to educate a prospective president about Louisiana’s needs.
In visiting Louisiana, both Obama and Romney were no doubt appealing to political constituencies outside of the state. Obama’s visit gave the incumbent president a chance to suggest his active engagement in recovery for a storm that had grabbed headlines around the world. Romney’s visit helped place the Republican candidate in the role of comforter-in-chief, which might help soften his image with moderate voters.
Romney’s visit also connected him with Gov. Bobby Jindal, who skipped this year’s national GOP convention — and a plum speaking slot at the gathering — to deal with Isaac. Jindal is a vocal supporter of Romney, but the governor struck the right tone, we believe, in saying that Obama or any other sitting president is always welcome in Louisiana.
Louisiana residents recovering from Isaac are less interested in the political dimensions of Obama’s and Romney’s recent visits than the practical results they might yield for recovery efforts.
We urge Democrats and Republicans to work together in addressing the state’s recovery needs. We hope that Obama’s and Romney’s visits to Louisiana help bridge political divisions regarding the recovery rather than widening them.