OTR Interviews

Is Pres. Obama's Tuesday visit to flood-ravaged Louisiana too-little, too late?

Editorial from the Baton Rouge Advocate pleaded with Pres. Obama to come off vacation and visit flooded 'most anguished state in the union.' Advocate editor reacts to Obama's scheduled Tuesday visit


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 19, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, FOX NEWS HOST: Louisiana's largest newspaper, "The Advocate" called on President Obama to cut his vacation short and visit the flood-ravaged state. And now the president is doing just that.

Today, White House announcing the president will go to Louisiana on Tuesday. But is Tuesday too little, too late?

"The Advocate's" editor Peter Kovacs goes ON THE RECORD. He's with us now.

Thanks for joining us. So, you know, the criticism is you got out Trumped. Trump beat him to the punch. He should have gone there. He is the commander-in-chief. The president should be there to counsel and console people in a time of need.

PETER KOVACS, EDITOR, THE ADVOCATE: Well, we welcome Mr. Trump and we welcome the president. And, in fact, we think everyone would benefit from having more of our leaders see Louisiana.

You know, today, there was an estimate that as many as a third of the homes in this area were impacted in flood zones. It's really true that a picture is not worth a thousand words.

The magnitude of the devastation is something you really have to come here to see. So we are not here to say we think the president should have come. We are glad he is coming. We are not here to say who got here first. We need all these leaders here.

GUILFOYLE: Right. But, nevertheless, the call was pretty specific editorially for the president to cut his vacation short. Sure, he is coming, and it's important to come than not to come at all. He did send Secretary Jeh Johnson to go in his stead, but was that good enough?

KOVACS: No. Our feeling is that this is a crisis that calls for presidential leadership, and we're glad to see the president is coming.

GUILFOYLE: Now, tell us about the people of Louisiana, you know, with some of the struggles that they are going through, but definitely resilient hearts, I'm sure.

KOVACS: Yes, they are. And we are helping each other. We are getting homes for each other. The magnitude of this crisis is, I don't think people fully appreciate. This is the biggest natural disaster of the second Obama term, really. The biggest disaster since Hurricane Sandy. And I really want to reiterate that seeing it is understanding it.


KOVACS: And I covered Katrina and survived Katrina, and I remember when 100 members of Congress came to see the damage from Katrina and New Orleans benefited from that and so did Congress.

GUILFOYLE: Right. I mean, when you think about it, Mr. Kovacs, when you look at the juxtaposition, the images that our viewers see there on the screen of Louisiana just ravaged by this devastation and this disaster, and then you see the images of the president golfing, I think it's tough when people are suffering.

KOVACS: Well, we were fairly forceful in saying that the president should come here and we are glad he is coming here.

GUILFOYLE: All right. Well, what would you like to say to the president? What is something that you need most there for help?

KOVACS: You know, ultimately, we are going to need help building flood control structures that can withstand this kind of flood. And I think also residents are going to need help with rebuilding.

A lot of this area is not in an area raided as an area that's supposed to flood. And so in many ways, the federal government told residents that they didn't need to buy flood insurance, and now we can't have the federal government telling residents that they are not going to be helped because they didn't have flood insurance.

GUILFOYLE: That's such a great point. They're going to have to have the legal system work that up. In the meantime, people are definitely suffering. You want to make sure that this does not happen again.

Peter Kovacs, thanks so much for spending some time with us tonight.