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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Hurricane and the Campaign -- 1992

From UPI, August 29, 1992:
Knowing Hurricane Andrew is one domestic disaster he cannot afford to blow, President Bush returned to Washington Saturday to get an update on federal relief efforts in Florida and Louisiana.
Having set aside a planned weekend at his seaside home in Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush flew to the White House from Camp David, Md., for a high-profile meeting with top aides.
With cameras rolling, Bush stepped off his helicopter on the South Lawn and strode to the Cabinet Room for talks with Transportation Secretary Andrew Card, Deputy Defense Secretary Donald Atwood and members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Earlier in the day, the Defense Department announced that the number of federal troops assisting in South Florida would be doubled to 14,000.
The president was showered with criticism from victims of Hurricane Andrew last week that the government was slow to respond to their massive loss of homes and businesses.
But a Newsweek poll released Saturday showed that 54 percent of Americans believe Bush has done a good job handling relief efforts. At the same time, however, 57 percent said they think Bush is more concerned about matters in Iraq and Bosnia-Hercegovina than the plight of those in Florida and Louisiana.
From The New York Times, August 30, 1992:
Gov. Bill Clinton said today that an effort should be made to "look into" why problems have plagued the hurricane disaster-relief effort in Florida and Louisiana.
But he pulled up short of blaming President Bush for any of the troubles, saying he did not want to politicize the issue in an election and that any investigation should be carried out in "as nonpolitical a way as possible."
"I do believe an important job of a President is the management of disasters," the Democratic nominee told reporters here at an appearance before a wildlife group. "I think they need to look into it. But I don't want to get into assessing the blame there because I don't know what the facts were. We ought to look into how it can be changed for the future."
The Bush Administration has been hit by complaints over the past several days that it moved ineptly and too slowly to aid the victims of Hurricane Andrew, particularly in Florida.
Today, the Bush campaign said that Mr. Clinton, despite his claims to the contrary, was jumping on criticisms of the disaster relief for political advantage. "He's trying to exploit what is a terrible situation for political gain," said Torie Clarke, a campaign spokeswoman. "He should be ashamed of himself."
From The New York Times, September 2, 1992:
With a few deft words, President Bush threw the full weight of incumbency behind Florida's hurricane victims today, and showed in the process why even Presidents who lag in the polls are electoral forces to be reckoned with.
Seeking to recover from an early stumble in the Federal relief effort, Mr. Bush flew Air Force One to the site of the worst storm damage and opened the Federal treasury to residents of South Florida.
He committed the Government to footing the entire cost of rebuilding the region's shattered schools, bridges, hospitals, roads and other public facilities, a tab that is likely to run double that of the $1.5 billion spent after Hurricane Hugo struck South Carolina in 1989. He also pledged to rebuild Homestead Air Force Base, at a cost that could reach $500 million, even though some experts had concluded that if the judgment was based on military need, the base might never be reopened.
By day's end it was clear that this normally budget-conscious President, who has railed for months against unrestrained Federal spending, would spare nothing when it came to helping Florida's hurricane victims.
Though he lost the general election to Clinton, Bush won Florida by 1.9 percent.