President Visits More States Before National Address, BP Meeting

President Obama struck a cautiously optimistic tone today on the future of the Gulf Coast after surveying oil cleanup efforts in Theodore, Alabama, but warned the business owners and residents will have to be patient.

"It's going to take time for things to return to normal. There's going to be a harmful effect on many local businesses, and it's going to be painful for a lot of folks. Folks are going to be frustrated, and some folks are going to be angry," he said.

"But I promise you this, that things are going to return to normal. This region that's known a lot of hardship will bounce back, just like it's bounced back before."

Obama promised the full resources of the federal government to "make sure that communities get back on their feet" and said he was confident that the Gulf Coast would wind up "in better shape than it was before."

Earlier today the president met with the governors of Louisiana and Mississippi as well as several local residents to get "an absolutely clear understanding" of the economic damage from the oil spill that he will ask BP to help alleviate during a meeting at the White House later this week.

Obama's trip to Mississippi, Alabama and Florida -- three affected states not included in his three previous visits -- comes one day before he will address the nation on the Gulf of Mexico disaster in a televised appearance from the Oval Office.

"We're gathering up facts, stories right now so that we have an absolutely clear understanding about how we can best present to BP the need to make sure that individuals and businesses are dealt with in a fair manner and in a prompt manner," he said at a Coast Guard station in Gulfport, Miss.

Obama assured the business owners that the federal government is "in this for the long haul" but cautioned that how long that will actually be is unknown.

"The full effects of this may not be known immediately," he said of the oil spill that has been leaking for nearly two months. "They may not be known three months from now and may not be fully known for another six months or a year."

Tuesday's address will be Obama's first from the Oval Office, demonstrating the gravity of the Gulf coast crisis and the perils the crisis poses for his presidency.

Obama to Deliver Oval Office Address Tuesday

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod told ABC News the Oval Office is the right venue for a situation of such gravity.

"This is a matter that has gripped the nation, people have the right to know where we are and how we are going to move forward and what the battle plan is," Axelrod said in an interview Monday.

With almost seven in 10 Americans giving a negative rating to the federal response to the spill, a worse rating than that given for the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, the president's political capital and his agenda are at risk.

The president will discuss plans to contain the oil, reorganize the Minerals and Management Services and to push BP to create an escrow fund for those seeking damages from the company.

In his small office adjacent to the Oval Office, Axelrod said that the account should be administered by an independent "master."

"We also want to make sure they are administered fairly, not slow walked, so they don't face a phalanx of bureaucratic obstacles," he said.

The president will use the environmental catastrophe to exemplify the nation's need to pursue a clean energy future.

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