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WH Pool Report: Hands-Off Manager

In this White House pool report, we learn the limits of getting your information via the airways:


The president stopped to talk to the pool outside a one story school being repaired, just after 2 pm CDT. He made no news at the 28th Street Elementary School. Asked about Mike Brown resigning, he said he hadn't spoken to Chertoff or Brown, but will be on AF One.

"Maybe you know something I don't know," he said of Brown.

Can we put that on the back of the "You're doing a heck of job" t-shirts?

Full pool report after the jump.

From: Press.Releases@WhiteHouse.Gov

Subject: POOL REPORT #5, 9/12/05

Date: September 12, 2005 3:31:43 PM EDT

Reply-To: Press.Releases@WhiteHouse.Gov

Pool Report #5, 9/12/05

The president stopped to talk to the pool outside a one story school

being repaired, just after 2 pm CDT. He made no news at the 28th Street

Elementary School.

Asked about Mike Brown resigning, he said he hadn't spoken to

Chertoff or Brown, but will be on AF One.

"Maybe you know something I don't know," he said of Brown.

"There will be plenty of time to figure out what went right and what

went wrong. There's time to try to blame somebody but they want to get

their lives back together."

He spoke of the hope of this school reopening in October. Gov. Haley

Barbour was with Bush and the prinipcipal and the mayor.

Asked about going to the United Nations this week and how that will

affect his attention to the crisis:

"I can do more than one thing at one time... If I'm focusing on the

hurricane, I've got the capacity to focus on foreign policy as well."

(Note: The White House advises us that there was another parish

president, previously undisclosed, at the previous chopper stop: Junior

Rodriguez, of St. Bernard, who may have been keeping a low profile. He's

an earthy fellow.)

Marine One landed at Biloxi-Gulfport Airport at 12:50 pm CDT.

The president motorcaded from the airport where the Trent Lott Air

Guard Center is housed in to Gulfport, which is the town where this

landing actually took place.

Here the first sightings as we drove in were of demolished homes,

wind damage, massive roof damage and trees down.

We drove through a neighborhood of small one story homes, many hit

hard, some not. A lower income area, it seems. It's wind damage.

A big circus-like ovular white tent, with open sides, is erected

outside the Christ in Action center where food and water is being

served. The sign on the tent in red letters says "Free Food."

An american flag hangs next to it, and there are pallets filled with

cartons of food, water, diapers and even 50 pound bags of dog food

beneath the tent in the parking lot of the Gulfport Church of God.

There also are tables arrayed under the tent, and it's breezy in

here in a hot day.

The pallets of plastic bottled water all shrink-wrapped stand a good

15 feet high between the tent and the church. The Christ in Action

banner also hangs on the tent.

Bush mills with people on the far side of the tent, maybe 100 feet

long, opposite from the side where we are standing to watch. Then he

works his way down toward us where he stops at the table of an elderly

woman holding a Bible.

Helen Bedeaux, 94, tells your pooler that she lost her "trailer" in

the storm. She is here with her son Lee, who saved her. They live in

Delisle. Bush grabbed her hands on the table and she held his and

pressed them to the table and wouldn't let go as he leaned in close,

smiling and talking. She held him there for a couple minutes, her green

covered Bible sitting on the table between them. She sat at the end of

the table wearing pink fuzzy slippers. Leo sat to her right.

Bush straightened up and moved on and then quickly encountered a

three-year-old who he hoisted for the cameras: Daquan D'ray Williams.

At 1:30 pm, most of the motorcade rolled from the food tent and then

held in the storm-stricken neighborhood. POTUS on the move, rolling

again, 1:51 pm.

Down a main six lane roadway, with traffic on it, and turning at

Bill's Quick Lube. Toward trailers and trucks, and past a Baptist church

with the roof blown off. And past a wrecked apartment complex and

warehouse to a school where debris is being cleared.

Bush comes out on the schoolyard and talks to military and civilian

people here at the school.

As they speak, large sections of roofing are being hauled over and

piled up conspicuously between Bush and the pool reporters, in other

words one big shot with president and debris being piled up.

Bush walks toward us and hugs another military worker. When a

reporter calls out a question to him about Mike Brown he demurs:

"I got to say hello to people." He speaks Spanish to some

helmeted and uniformed workers.

"Hola. Como Esta?"

Turns out there are Mexican soldiers working here alongside

americans in the cleanup and Bush points to this as part of the hope of

the recovery underway.

He stands for a group photo with them, hugging the two women in

the mostly male crowd.

"I'll be over there in a minute," he tells us, for a second talk.

He comes over and gives the above-mentioned remarks. Then the

motorcade rolls to the airport, and Air Force One is heading home

Filing at 2:25 pm CDT. Before wheels up, for your use.

Mark Silva

White House Correspondent

Chicago Tribune

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