The White House Blog: The President
- Posted byon May 26, 2013 at 3:12 PM EDT
It was just one week ago that tornadoes tore through Oklahoma, devastating the town of Moore.
Today, President Obama traveled to the area -- visiting Plaza Towers Elementary School to offer a nation's condolences, and a promise to help Moore rebuild.
The President thanked Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Mayor Glenn Lewis of Moore for their quick, outstanding response, and praised other local officials instrumental in helping to save lives and jumpstart the town's recovery efforts.
President Obama highlighted the everyday acts of heroism in Moore, thanking first responders and volunteers for embodying the "Oklahoma Standard":
We’ve seen incredible outpourings of support from churches, from community groups who are helping folks begin to recover.
This area has known more than its share of heartbreak. But people here pride themselves on the “Oklahoma Standard” –- what Governor Fallin has called, “Being able to work through disasters like this, and [to] come out stronger on the other side.” And that’s what we’ve been seeing this week.
From the forecasters who issued the warnings, to the first responders who dug through the rubble, to the teachers who shielded with their own bodies their students, Oklahomans have inspired us with their love and their courage and their fellowship.
Moore, like Joplin and New Jersey before it, will rebuild -- and the nation is standing by to help. As President Obama said:
When we say that we’ve got your back, I promise you, we keep our word. If you talk to folks in Alabama who have been affected over the last couple of years; you talk to the folks at Joplin, who I know have actually sent volunteers down here to Moore; if you talk to folks in New Jersey and New York, they’ll tell you that when we say we’re going to be there until you completely rebuild, we mean it.
The President closed by urging every American to step up and help the people of Oklahoma.
After visiting Plaza Towers, President Obama stopped by Moore Fire Department Station #1 to meet with first responders. The fire station has served as a command center throughout the disaster, first for search and rescue and now for survivor services.
Ed. Note: You can help people affected by the recent tornadoes through American Red Cross Disaster Relief. If you are in the affected areas, click here to apply for assistance and learn about other resources that are available to you.
- Posted byon May 25, 2013 at 5:30 AM EDT
In this week’s address, President Obama commemorates Memorial Day by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in service to our country.
- Posted byon May 24, 2013 at 7:23 PM EDT
At a town hall meeting today on school safety at the Classical Magnet School in Hartford, I got to hear firsthand how Connecticut is leading the nation in adopting common-sense solutions to reduce gun violence and improve school safety.
In the aftermath of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, the courage and resilience of teachers, parents, children, and communities in the Newtown area has been nothing short of remarkable.
From Governor Dannel Malloy to state lawmakers to the members of the Sandy Hook Promise, the entire state worked together to pass comprehensive legislation to reduce gun violence.
Unlike here in Washington, Connecticut’s lawmakers didn’t defend the status quo or shrink from tackling difficult questions. With bipartisan support, they enacted a comprehensive law to help curb gun violence and mass shootings that does not infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and hunt.
Connecticut’s leaders have set an example of political courage that can teach a lot to Congress and the rest of the nation. At today’s town hall meeting, Governor Malloy talked about how he decided to press ahead for new gun violence prevention measures, despite fierce attacks from the NRA.
By contrast, in Washington, Congress has so far failed to take the sensible step of expanding the background check system to close loopholes that allow criminals and the mentally ill to buy guns.
- Posted byon May 24, 2013 at 3:16 PM EDT
Today, President Obama delivered the commencement address to the U.S. Naval Academy class of 2013.
Today, each of you can take enormous pride, for you’ve met the mission of this Academy. You’ve proven yourselves morally, living a concept of honor and integrity -- and this includes treating one another with respect and recognizing the strength of every member of your team. You’re the most diverse class to graduate in Naval Academy history. And among the many proud young women graduating today, 13 will serve on submarines.
You’ve proven yourselves mentally. Now, I know that some think of this as just a small engineering school on the Severn. You’ve not only met its rigorous standards, you’ve helped this Academy earn a new distinction -- the number-one public liberal arts school in America.
- Posted byon May 24, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President continued his Jobs & Opportunity tour, this time highlighting bold new efforts in education and manufacturing in Baltimore, gave the commencement address at Morehouse College, invited the President of Myanmar, eight immigration reform advocates and DREAMers themselves, and Gershwin Prize winner Carole King and friends to the White House, and delivered a major counter-terrorism speech at the National Defense University.
- Posted byon May 23, 2013 at 5:32 PM EDT
Today at National Defense University, President Obama laid out the framework for U.S. counterterrorism strategy as we wind down the war in Afghanistan.
President Obama discussed how the threat of terrorism has changed substantially since September 11, 2011, and explained his comprehensive strategy to meet these threats.
- Posted byon May 23, 2013 at 10:15 AM EDT
- Posted byon May 22, 2013 at 3:15 PM EDT
Ed. Note: You can help people affected by the recent tornadoes through American Red Cross Disaster Relief. If you are in the affected areas, click here to apply for assistance and learn about other resources that are available to you. Check back here for more information — we'll continue updating this post as the response effort develops.
President Obama continues to receive updates on the response to the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma, and continues to direct his team to provide all available resources to support state and local partners leading the response.
More than 400 federal personnel remain on the ground in the impacted area, including teams that are working directly with families and individuals who were affected by the tornadoes. As of last night, more than 2,200 individuals impacted by the tornadoes had registered with FEMA for direct assistance available through the major disaster declaration provided Monday night. (For those in affected areas, find out how to apply for assistance here or learn about other resources available to you)
According to FEMA, since Monday night, the national Urban Search and Rescue teams completed searches of more than 1,200 structures in the affected area.
FEMA and federal partners have established an Incident Support Base to stage commodities. More than 127,000 liters of water and nearly 30,000 meals have been delivered to the state to support response efforts.
FEMA also continues to work closely with organizations such as the American Red Cross, who continue to bring resources to support impacted families. (Learn more about how to give or get help through the American Red Cross)
Update 2: Press Secretary Jay Carney announced in today's briefing that on Sunday, May 26, President Obama "will travel to the Oklahoma City area to see firsthand the response to the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that have impacted the area on Sunday night and Monday. He will visit with affected families as well as thank first responders."
Update 1: Overnight, the President continued to receive updates from his team on the ongoing response in Oklahoma. Following yesterday's call to the Mayor of Moore Oklahoma, Glenn Lewis, the President spoke again to Governor Fallin expressing his concern for those who had been impacted and to reiterate that he had directed his Administration to provide all available resources to support the response led by the Governor and her team. Last night, the President also spoke with Senator James Inhofe to make clear that FEMA stood ready to continue to support the people of Oklahoma through the immediate response phase as well as the recovery, and to let the Senator know that Oklahomans remained in his thoughts and prayers.
On Tuesday, at the President’s direction, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate arrived in Oklahoma to ensure that federal resources were effectively supporting the response efforts. Administrator Fugate is on the ground again today, and this morning Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will also travel to the affected area to meet with local officials and see ongoing response efforts first hand.
As of this morning, FEMA has more than 400 personnel already on the ground supporting the response, including three national Urban Search and Rescue Teams, an Incident Management Assistance Team, as well as personnel focused on helping survivors register for and receive the federal assistance made available by the major disaster declaration signed by the President on Monday night. As of 2 a.m. this morning, more than 1,000 individuals affected by the tornadoes and severe weather in Oklahoma had registered for assistance with FEMA.
The President received a briefing this morning by his team, and will continue to be updated on the response throughout the day.
Update 3: As response and recovery efforts continue on the ground in Oklahoma, the Department of Homeland Security announced this afternoon that Secretary Janet Napolitano will travel to the area tomorrow to meet with state and local officials and ensure first responders are receiving the assistance they need to help those affected by the tornadoes.
Update 2: This morning, President Obama delivered a statement on the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that impacted Oklahoma. He described the response efforts underway, and assured the people of Moore and all the affected areas that they "would have all the resources that they need at their disposal."
For there are homes and schools to rebuild, businesses and hospitals to reopen, there are parents to console, first responders to comfort, and, of course, frightened children who will need our continued love and attention. There are empty spaces where there used to be living rooms, and bedrooms, and classrooms, and, in time, we’re going to need to refill those spaces with love and laughter and community.
"Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts to those in need," President Obama said. "Because we're a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes. We've seen that spirit in Joplin, in Tuscaloosa; we saw that spirit in Boston and Breezy Point. And that’s what the people of Oklahoma are going to need from us right now."
- Posted byon May 20, 2013 at 6:30 PM EDT
Today President Obama welcomed President Thein Sein of Myanmar to the White House for a bilateral meeting, the first visit to the United States by a leader of that country in almost 50 years.
“During this period in between there have been significant bilateral tensions between our countries,” President Obama said. “But what has allowed this shift in relations is the leadership that President Sein has shown in moving Myanmar down a path of both political and economic reform.”
But as President Sein is the first to admit, this is a long journey and there is still much work to be done. And during our discussions, President Sein shared with me the fact -- the manner in which he intends to continue to move forward on releasing more political prisoners; making sure that the government of Myanmar institutionalizes some of the political reforms that have already taken place; how rule of law is codified so that it continues into the future; and the process whereby these ethnic conflicts that have existed are resolved not simply by a ceasefire but an actual incorporation of all these communities into the political process.
- Posted byon May 19, 2013 at 4:33 PM EDT
Today, President Obama delivered the commencement address to the 2013 graduates of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA.
“It is one of the great honors of my life to be able to address this gathering here today,” President Obama told the graduates. He spoke about Morehouse’s history, and “ the unique sense of purpose that this place has always infused -- the conviction that this is a training ground not only for individual success, but for leadership that can change the world.”
“Your generation is uniquely poised for success unlike any generation of African Americans that came before it,” President Obama said.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have work -- because if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that too few of our brothers have the opportunities that you’ve had here at Morehouse. In troubled neighborhoods all across this country -- many of them heavily African American -- too few of our citizens have role models to guide them. Communities just a couple miles from my house in Chicago, communities just a couple miles from here -- they’re places where jobs are still too scarce and wages are still too low; where schools are underfunded and violence is pervasive; where too many of our men spend their youth not behind a desk in a classroom, but hanging out on the streets or brooding behind a jail cell.
My job, as President, is to advocate for policies that generate more opportunity for everybody -- policies that strengthen the middle class and give more people the chance to climb their way into the middle class. Policies that create more good jobs and reduce poverty, and educate more children, and give more families the security of health care, and protect more of our children from the horrors of gun violence. That's my job. Those are matters of public policy, and it is important for all of us -- black, white and brown -- to advocate for an America where everybody has got a fair shot in life. Not just some. Not just a few.