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WH Pool Report: "He's Doing What He Can Do"

In this White House Pool report, we hear about "what the White House called an 'unscheduled' stop at the Bethany World Prayer Center," and some surprising news about the President:


Also in the room was Secretary of Transportation Norman Minetta, who accompanied Bush to Louisiana aboard Air Force One, as well as Dan Bartlett, the presidential counselor, and Mike Gerson. Also working the room with the president was Bethany’s pastor, Larry Stockstill plus Mayor Holden. Stockstill is Caucasian; Holden is African American, fyi. Bush is Caucasian too, we should note.
Also, the soft bigotry of low expectations: "Landres is not critical of Bush or the federal, state or local response. 'I think he’s doing what he can do,' says Landres of Bush."

Full report after the jump.

Subject: POOL REPORT #2, 9/5/05

Date: Mon, 5 Sep 2005 13:07:28 -0400

From: "White House Press Releases"

To: WH Press Releases

Pool report 2, 9/5/05

POTUS, fresh from announcing his selection of John Roberts as chief justice, boarded Air Force One at 8:27 am en route to Baton Rouge. FLOTUS accompanied POTUS as he dechoppered from Marine One at Andrews AFB.

The presidential road crew also included Messrs. Bartlett, Hagin and Hadley.

Dana Perino cordially visited the press cabin to find out what was on the minds of its inhabitants. She reprised some of what Scott McClellan had said about the Roberts selection and announcement. Perino said the Monday trip to the Gulf Coast region was part of Bush’s effort at “seeing as much as possible and getting information from different places.”

Asked if additional trips to the region are planned, she said, “not as of yet.”

At about 10:15 a.m. EDT, Perino came back again, this time with the news that Bush had called Justice O’Connor from Air Force One to notify her of his selection of Roberts. Perino said O’Connor had been unaware of the news. (Memo to cable company: Check service at Justice O’Connor’s home). Perino also said O’Connor reiterated her intention to remain on the court until a replacement is confirmed.

With landing time about 15 minutes away, Perino declined to offer any details about our destination in Baton Rouge.

Baton rouge

Your pool landed at the Baton Rouge airport where the Air Force One was greeted by local officials including Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden. We took a short ride through Baton Rouge where we passed the Brownfields Baptist Church and Academy which had a giant hand-painted sign out front which read: “Shelter Full.”

Then we arrived at what the White House called an “unscheduled” stop at the Bethany World Prayer Center where a large multipurpose room had been turned into a makeshift shelter containing about 120 mattresses arrayed in half the large room, while dining tables occupied the other half. The place was quite neat and orderly given the circumstances. The famed African American religious broadcaster T.D. Jakes just happened to be there to accompany the president as he made his way around the room. Laura, by this time, having changed out of her gray pants suit and pink blouse and high heels which she had worn as she boarded AF 1 at Andrews, worked the room as well. The President had changed out of the suit he wore at the Roberts announcement and into his disaster wear. Blanco worked the room too but mostly separately from the President. Also in the room was Secretary of Transportation Norman Minetta, who accompanied Bush to Louisiana aboard Air Force One, as well as Dan Bartlett, the presidential counselor, and Mike Gerson. Also working the room with the president was Bethany’s pastor, Larry Stockstill plus Mayor Holden. Stockstill is Caucasian; Holden is African American, fyi. Bush is Caucasian too, we should note.

The shelterees were mostly African American. The scene was one of relative calm as babies napped, kids wandered up to greet the leader of the free world, who signed some shirts and hats and your pool was kept at some distance. After about 20 minutes, the president along with Jakes, Blanco, Holden came over to talk with the pool. You’ll get a transcript of his remarks but the gist of them was that he saluted the armies of compassion and “to let the good people of this region know there’s a lot of work to be doe.” He called it “a long term project and this country is going to be committed to doing what it takes to help people get back on their feet.” (Check transcript on quotes, please). He said “I think all levels of government are doing the best they can” and added his now standard caveat that anything they’re not doing right they will get right.

Richard Landres, a lumberyard worker from New Orleans, is one of the shelter’s occupants. An African American, Landres left with his family on Sunday before the hurricane struck and was looking for a place to stay in when he was befriended by someone from the Bethany New World Church at a Burger King in Baton Rouge who told him about the church’s makeshift shelter. Landres is not critical of Bush or the federal, state or local response. “I think he’s doing what he can do,” says Landres of Bush.

Milton Beverly of Jefferson Parish, another refugee, sat outside with four-month-old son and said this of Bush’s response to the disaster: “He’s doing good now, I guess, since he came down to see it for himself.”

Bush and entourage then choppered to EOC in Baton Route. He was greeted by Chertoff, Lt. Gen. Russell Honore and others.

We are now in hold at said EOC while Bush, presumably, is getting briefed.

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