A presidential visit for Nashville?
By Ed O'Keefe
Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen said Thursday he would welcome a presidential visit his storm-devastated state soon but understands the commander in chief has had a lot on his plate this week. Weekend storms and flooding across Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky have killed at least 29 people and at least five people are still missing.
"This thing that happened in Tennessee got sandwiched between everything happening in the Gulf and everything happening up in New York," Bredesen said on a conference call with reporters this afternoon. Bredesen said he discussed a possible presidential visit earlier this week with President Obama and White House senior aide Valerie Jarrett.
"What I basically said is that first of all, he certainly would be welcomed, but during the first two or three days, it's sometimes counterproductive ... when a president comes," said Bredesen.
"At the point we're at now, if he wanted to do so he would be very welcomed," he later added.
"FEMA and the White House could not have been more helpful," he said.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate traveled back to the region on Thursday after first visiting on Monday. His agency has received at least 8,500 requests for assistance from residents impacted by the floods, Fugate said.
"We were watching the risk of severe weather across the southeast as we went into the weekend, but I don't think anybody was prepared to look at how much rain fell over such a short period of time over a large area," Fugate said.
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean also expressed satisfaction with the state and federal disaster assistance and noted that the city's airport and downtown areas are open for business.
"There's music there and beer there and barbecue," Dean said.
In addition to his conversations with Bredesen, Obama spoke earlier this week with the governors of Kentucky, Mississippi and Arkansas. He received another briefing on Thursday about the flooding response from his top homeland security adviser, John O. Brennan, the White House said.
May 6, 2010; 5:41 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Capitol Briefing
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