President Obama enjoys a snowball during coast visit - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

President Obama enjoys a snowball, listens to oil concerns during coast visit

By Doug Walker – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - At 10:20 this morning, Air Force one touched down, and President Barack Obama emerged to greet a warm and friendly crowd.  Then a meeting at the Coast Guard station to deal with oil spill logistics.  

But on a hot day, the cool shade of the pavilion on the Ken Combs pier was welcome relief for the president.  It was there he met with local businesses left hurting by the huge oil spill in the Gulf.  The president promised help.  "We are going to be working with business owners like this, with governors and mayors to make sure that they are made whole." 

The president also was critical of the technology that led to the massive spill, the worst in U.S. history.  "The technologies generally, whether it's dispersants, boom, skimming, devices, they really haven't developed much over the last 30 or 40 years." the president said.  "We're using the same stuff, the industry is using the same stuff the industry was using 40 years ago."

Mr. Obama also put in a plug for the tourism industry.  "One of the best ways to help is to come down here and enjoy the outstanding hospitality."  

On a sweltering day, the nearby snowball stand was a hit with the press corp.  It was also hard to resist for the president himself, who cooled off with a large lemon-lime.  He had a question for the owners.  "I assume you guys are getting hit the same way everybody else is with fewer people coming down."  

Then a few minutes for more handshakes.  And the end of a good visit.  

A visit that left the governor Haley Barbour pleased with the president's message.  "Our principal purpose in the trip was for him to get an even greater understanding of the differentiation between here and Louisiana for instance and that our biggest economic impact has been caused almost exclusively by the misperception that the public has because they way the news coverage portrays everything in the gulf like it was the worst parts of Louisiana." 

After leaving Mississippi, the president traveled to Alabama.  Mr. Obama ended the day in Florida, where he will meet with military officials Tuesday morning. 

The president then flies back to Washington, where he plans a prime time address to the nation concerning the Gulf spill tomorrow night.

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