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Obama in 2007: Govt Treated Katrina Victims Differently

Wednesday, 03 Oct 2012 07:21 AM

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The U.S. government treated victims of Hurricane Katrina differently than those suffering after 9/11, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told African-American ministers in a June 2007 speech.

Obama’s remarks at Hampton University were captured on video, portions of which were released at the time by media outlets. Some segments, however, were published for the first time Tuesday night by The Daily Caller, according to its report.

Among the ministers in the audience was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Wright, the Chicago pastor who nearly derailed Obama’s campaign months later with sermons that attacked Israel and America and accused the federal government of “inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color.”

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“The people down in New Orleans, they don’t care about as much,” Obama says in the video.

Survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks and Hurricane Andrew received generous amounts of federal aid, Obama explained. Unlike residents of New Orleans, the federal government considered those victims “part of the American family,” he said in the video.

The speech undermines Obama’s carefully-crafted image as a leader eager to build bridges between ethnic groups, according to Tucker Carlson, The Daily Caller’s co-founder and editor-in-chief. He spoke about the video on “The Sean Hannity Show” on Fox Television.

Obama gave the speech amid a hotly-contested presidential primary season.

Obama began the speech with “a special shout out” to Wright, whom he described as “my pastor, the guy who puts up with me, counsels me, listens to my wife complain about me. He’s a friend and a great leader. Not just in Chicago, but all across the country.”

During the speech, Obama ties riots in Los Angeles and Hurricane Katrina.

“The federal response after Katrina was similar to the response we saw after the riots in LA,” he said during the speech. “People in Washington, they wake up, they’re surprised: ‘There’s poverty in our midst! Folks are frustrated! Black people angry!’ Then there’s gonna be some panels, and hearings, and there are commissions and there are reports, and then there’s some aid money, although we don’t always know where it’s going — it can’t seem to get to the people who need it — and nothing really changes, except the news coverage quiets down and Anderson Cooper is on to something else.”

Obama pauses and tells the crowd that he thinks those in Katrina were treated differently by the government, particularly how he said the Stafford Act was applied.

“Down in New Orleans, where they still have not rebuilt 20 months later,” he began, “there’s a law, federal law — when you get reconstruction money from the federal government — called the Stafford Act. And basically it says, when you get federal money, you’ve got to give a 10 percent match. The local government’s gotta come up with 10 percent. Every $10 the federal government comes up with, local government’s gotta give a dollar.”

“Now here’s the thing,” Obama continues, “when 9/11 happened in New York City, they waived the Stafford Act — said: ‘This is too serious a problem. We can’t expect New York City to rebuild on its own. Forget that dollar you gotta put in. Well, here’s $10.’ And that was the right thing to do.

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“When Hurricane Andrew struck in Florida, people said: ‘Look at this devastation. We don’t expect you to come up with your own money. Here. Here’s the money to rebuild. We’re not gonna wait for you to scratch it together — because you’re part of the American family.’”

But that is not what was happening in primarily African-American New Orleans, Obama said.

“What’s happening down in New Orleans? Where’s your dollar? Where’s your Stafford Act money? Makes no sense! Tells me that somehow, the people down in New Orleans, they don’t care about as much!”

However, both before and after Obama’s speech, the federal government sent billions to areas damaged by Katrina, some of which had no string attached, records show.

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