President Barack Obama promised to scour the world to find more oil skimming boats, force BP to quickly and fully compensate people hurt by the Gulf disaster and used his bully pulpit Monday to urge vacationers to come down and enjoy the Mississippi Coast.
“This is something that’s been repeatedly emphasized here in Mississippi — but it’s true in Florida, it’s true in Alabama and it’s true in portions of Louisiana — there’s still a lot of opportunity for visitors to come down here, a lot of beaches that are not yet affected or will not be affected,” Obama told reporters after a meeting with Gov. Haley Barbour, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and other state, federal and local leaders at Coast Guard Station Gulfport. “We just want to make sure that people who have travel plans down to the Gulf area remain mindful of that, because if people want to know what they can do to help folks down here, one of the best ways to help is to come down here and enjoy the outstanding hospitality.”
Obama, on his first trip to Mississippi since he was elected, said he was on a fact-gathering mission before he meets with top BP officials on Wednesday.
After the meeting at the Coast Guard station, Obama traveled to the Ken Combs Pier in Gulfport, where he dined on seafood dishes from The Chimneys restaurant, had a snowcone and talked to a few local business owners. After his Gulfport visit, he traveled to Alabama on Monday and plans to be in Florida today.
Barbour said he and other leaders emphasized the need for more oil skimmer boats, to help fight the oil out in the Gulf, before it reaches shorelines. Of the more than 5,100 vessels currently working on the oil disaster, only about 240 are oil skimmers, according to the Coast Guard.