President Obama's Trip to New Orleans Draws Criticism -- Before He Even Arrives

"Why squander the political capital he has deservedly been garnering from previous good deeds by doing a "drive by" appearance in New Orleans, capped off with a fundraising meet-and-greet in San Francisco later that evening?" asked Powell, who said he voted for Obama. "It just doesn't play well."

The White House has strongly pushed back against the criticism by noting that the Gulf Coast region "has been only one of the most highly visited areas" for senior White House officials and cabinet members, according to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

The president was to be accompanied on the trip today by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The three Cabinet members have all made trips to the region already this year.

In total, members of the president's Cabinet and senior administration officials have made 22 trips to Louisiana in 2009, but just five to Mississippi and four to Alabama.

Mississippi officials estimated at the time Katrina struck that Waveland took a harder hit from the wind and water of Katrina than any other town along the Gulf Coast. Nearly every home and business within a half mile of the coast was dragged away by the force of the storm.

Longo was quick to say his comments about the president skipping his town were not meant as a criticism to the residents and officials of New Orleans, who he has worked with on many issues since the storm, but a plea to have Obama see firsthand what is happening along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

"We're not asking him to come here to beat up on him, we're asking him to come and see tax dollars at work," he said.

"I think you can be judged on what you've said you're going to do for New Orleans and for the Gulf or you can be judged on what you've done and what you're continuing to do," Gibbs said Tuesday. "I think as people judge us on the latter, which is what matters to people that live in that region, I think they know the difference."

Before assuming the presidency, Obama made four trips to the region, including a campaign stop at Tulane University in New Orleans last February when he said the Bush administration failed to keep its promises to the people of the region to help them rebuild their communities and their lives.

"When I am president, I will start by restoring that most basic trust -- that your government will do what it takes to keep you safe," he pledged last year.

Gibbs said the president is less concerned about criticism than he is about "making sure that we're doing what has to be done to ensure that the Gulf is rebuilt and revitalized."

"The governor of Louisiana last week was quite complimentary of our efforts in ensuring that that region gets what they need," he said. "And we're immensely proud of that.

Turning the Page From the Bush Administration

The Bush administration's handling of the hurricane and its aftermath still looms large in the region.

The Obama administration has been quick to highlight the work it has done in its first year -- including $2.3 billion in Recovery Act money to fund recovery projects in Louisiana -- to signal a change from the past.

On a visit to Atlanta last month to survey flood damage, Vice President Joe Biden promised an effective and timely government response in contrast to the previous administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina.

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