by Wendell Goler and Jake Gibson
GRAND ISLE, Louisiana (FOX) -- Hoping to show the country and the world an image of hands-on involvement in the Gulf Coast crisis, President Barack Obama winged into Louisiana Friday. The president took a close-up look at a beach jeopardized by the massive oil spill, received a briefing and spoke to the press.
"We're going to hold [British Petroleum] responsible," the president said, flanked by Admiral Thad Allen and the governors of Louisiana, Florida and Alabama. "However, I ultimately take responsibility for solving this crisis. I'm the president and the buck stops with me."
Residents of the area have been hit hard by the disaster and the president reached out to them as well. "Justice will be done for those whose lives have been upended by this disaster," he said.
The president earlier toured Fourchon Beach, which was closed off with yellow crime scene tape. National Incident Commander for the oil spill, Admiral Thad Allen, stood alongside the president, who stooped over, putting his hand in the sand before telling reporters, "These are the tar balls that they're talking about."
"[T]hese you can actually send out teams to pick up as they wash onshore," Obama said. "[O]bviously the concern is, is that until we actually stop the flow, we’ve got problems."
As the president spoke, British Petroleum kept pumping mud into the gaping hole on the sea floor beneath the Gulf of Mexico. However, officials there warned it would be two more days before they would know whether this latest attempt would actually stop the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Mr. Obama revealed Energy Secretary Stephen Chu and a team of scientists are working on contingency plans in case BP's "top kill" doesn't succeed.
After surveying the beach for about 15 minutes, the president headed to Grand Isle for a formal briefing from Allen, the man who is overseeing the effort to combat the spill for the federal government. Mr. Obama was accompanied there by the governors of Louisiana, Florida and Alabama. The briefing went almost two hours longer than planned.
The president warned there would be disagreements between the states and the federal government and between the states themselves. He said, "[T]here are going to be a lot of judgment calls involved here."
President Obama made the five-our trip amid rising criticism of his administration's response to the disaster and speculation the tragedy could engulf his presidency. Friday's trip was the president's second to the area since the BP-leased oil rig Deepwater Horizon blew up on April 20, killing 11 workers and setting off the ecological disaster.