“We’re winding down a decade of war, we’re destroying terrorist networks that attacked us and we’ve restored American leadership,” Obama said, dismissing charges that he has weakened U.S. standing in the world. “If you hear anyone trying to say that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, don’t you believe it, because here’s the truth: Our alliances have never been stronger.”
Before heading to Louisiana, Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, held a rally in Lakeland, Fla., where most of Florida’s swing voters live.
Romney reprised his critique of Obama’s economic record and asked his supporters to help him win Florida.
“For that to happen, you’re going to have to go out and find a person or two who voted for Barack Obama,” he said. “I know they’re here. They’re not as visible as they used to be. You can see some of the glue on the back of their bumper sticker where it used to be, and so you can find them. But you find them and convince them to get on our team and to help us because we want to be held accountable for the promises we made last night and the night before.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president’s decision to travel to Louisiana was made before Romney announced his visit. Late Friday, the White House also announced Obama had hosted a conference call to brief local parish presidents and mayors on the federal support available.”
Carney declined to say whether the White House thought Romney’s trip would be a distraction from relief efforts. “I just don’t have any way to assess that,” he said.
But Romney’s drop-in triggered a harsh reaction from Democrats in Congress, who charged that Ryan’s proposed federal budget would cut money needed to respond to disasters, such as Hurricane Isaac. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, said in a statement: “It is the height of hypocrisy for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to make a pretense of showing sympathy for the victims of Hurricane Isaac when their policies would leave those affected by this disaster stranded and on their own.”