Video: Crabcakes amid crisis: Obama returns to Gulf

  1. Transcript of: Crabcakes amid crisis: Obama returns to Gulf

    HOLT: In the gulf today , President Obama is on a mission, not just to manage the crisis, but to send the message that he's on top of it. He's got his work cut out for him on both fronts. Our coverage continues now with our White House correspondent Chuck Todd , who is traveling with the president in Theodore , Alabama . Chuck , good evening.

    CHUCK TODD reporting: Good evening, Lester . Well, dogged by criticism that he's been a step behind responding to this crisis ever since that Deepwater Horizon exploded, the president has embarked on a series of events, including this two-day trip to the gulf, a prime-time Oval Office address tomorrow night, and that face-to-face meeting with BP execs. All of it is designed to send the message that the government finally has command and control of this crisis. The president got a dockside look at what happens at the cleaning and repair process set up for the oil boom.

    President BARACK OBAMA: All right, this is the test to see if the patch works, huh?

    Unidentified Man: Yes, sir.

    TODD: It was the second of three stops on the Gulf Coast today, and he had a message of reassurance.

    Pres. OBAMA: We want to coordinate at every level -- federal, state and local -- to make sure that we are leaving no stone unturned in terms of our ability to respond to this crisis.

    TODD: The president began his day in Gulfport , Mississippi , where the beaches remain oil-free, but also tourist-free, a big concern to local officials and to the president.

    Pres. OBAMA: 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.

    TODD: Walking along an empty beach, the president and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour tried their best to emphasize that fact, downing mini crabcakes and fried shrimp for lunch and then topping it off with a visit to a local snow cone shack. Both picked lemon line.

    Governor HALEY BARBOUR: We got you a big -- we got you a

    big....

    TODD: Back in Alabama , the president tried to underscore the unprecedented challenge.

    Pres. OBAMA: It's not simply one catastrophic event. It's an ongoing assault whose movements are constantly changing. That's what makes this crisis so challenging.

    TODD: He said he hopes to have an agreement in place with BP by Wednesday over how to fund claims. The president overnights in Pensacola , spends a few hours there tomorrow, then heads back to Washington to lay out his comprehensive cleanup plan in a prime-time Oval Office address. Chuck Todd , NBC News, Theodore, Alabama .

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