In a series of critical emails sent Friday, Democratic senators said Mitt Romney's visit to the hurricane-affected areas of southern Louisiana were out of step with his running mate's plans to cut hurricane disaster relief funding.
"Under a Romney-Ryan administration, we would not have been prepared to respond to Hurricane Isaac," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement.
"If Paul Ryan and his fellow House Republicans had succeeded in blocking disaster relief last fall, there would have been no aid for the victims of Isaac today," Reid added.
It is well-known that Reid is in vehement opposition to Romney's policies and he has often broken his silence to publicly condemn them. But Reid was joined in his denunciation of Romney by one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate today.
"I welcome Governor Romney to Louisiana today so he can see firsthand the devastation caused by Hurricane Isaac," Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu said in an email Friday.
"I hope as he witnesses recovery in action, he will reflect upon his party's approach to funding disaster response. Had the plan advocated by his running mate Congressman Paul Ryan and Congressman Eric Cantor prevailed, there would be no money readily available to provide assistance for this, or any other disaster," Landrieu added.
Landrieu, who is not always in lock-step with other Democrats, became an outspoken proponent of disaster funding after Hurricane Katrina ravaged southern Louisiana in 2005.
Last year, Landrieu fought House Republicans to ensure disaster relief funds were not cut - there is now $1.4 billion in the FEMA's Distance Relief Fund coffers due to this effort.
Departing Florida after his nomination acceptance speech, Romney announced a sudden departure from his campaign schedule. Instead of flying to Virginia where he was intended to hold a joint rally with Ryan, Romney instead detoured to Lafitte, Louisiana, to join Gov. Bobby Jindal to survey the hurricane damage.
Only a few hours later, the White House announced the president would be canceling a previously-scheduled trip to Ohio on Monday to stop in Louisiana.
Speaking on Air Force One with reporters shortly after the announcement, White House Spokesman Jay Carney said the president's trip had been planned before Romney announced his stop there today.
"In terms of the President's travel, obviously when you're president of the United States, coordinating travel carries with it I think unique logistical challenges," Carney said.
He added, "And it was the assessment of the president's team, working with all the people involved in operations as well as people on the ground that Monday would be - was a good day for the president to visit."
The political rhetoric surrounding the disaster, which resulted in the deaths of two Louisiana residents and extensive property damage, was unusually high today, as natural disasters of this sort normally do not engender the kind of political mud-wrestling seen today.
When asked if he thought the former Massachusetts governor's trip was premature in light of ongoing relief efforts, Carney simply said, "I don't have any way to assess that."
Overall, around 800,000 residents in the south of the state lost power and two deaths were reported. Massive flooding took place in residential areas near the coast, but New Orleans was largely saved by federal levees put in place after Katrina in 2005.
Since Wednesday, Isaac has been downgraded to a tropical depression and currently hovers over Mulberry, Arkansas, a small town about 25 miles northeast of Fort Smith.
by RTT Staff Writer
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