By Sam Youngman - 05/28/10 07:56 PM EDT
President Barack Obama again took personal responsibility for recovery
efforts in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday and pledged to affected residents
that they "will not be left behind."
Obama, speaking to reporters in Louisiana on his second trip to the region since the oil leak began almost 40 days ago, called the spill and environmental damage "an assault on our shores, our people, our regional economies and on communities like this one."
"I am here to tell you that you're not alone," Obama said. "You will not be abandoned. You will not be left behind."
He added: "The media might get tired of this story, but we will not."
Obama's visit comes as officials and residents are waiting to learn whether BP’s so-called "top kill" approach to stop the leak will halt the flow.
"If it is successful, it would obviously be welcome news," Obama said. "If it's not, a team of some of the world's top scientists, engineers and experts, led by our energy secretary and Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Steven Chu, has … for some time been exploring any and all reasonable contingency plans."
The president continued to try to mitigate the political fallout from the disaster, touring the Gulf region and meeting with members of Congress and governors from the area, all of whom received a briefing from Adm. Thad Allen.
As he did on Thursday at a rare White House East Room press conference, Obama shouldered the responsibility for the disaster response.
"I ultimately take responsibility for solving this crisis," Obama said. "I'm the president, and the buck stops with me."
The president warned that there will be disagreements within the government over what should be done and "not every judgment we make is going to be right the first time out."
He said that "sometimes there are going to be risks and unintended consequences."
"In other words, there are going to be a lot of judgment calls involved here," Obama said. "There are not going to be any silver bullets or perfect answers for the challenges we face."
Regardless of the outcome of the top-kill approach, Obama said, "our response will continue with its full force."
"Because even if the leak was stopped today, it wouldn't change the fact that these waters still contain oil from what is now the largest spill in American history, and more of it will come ashore," the president said.
Obama said he has made it clear to Allen that he will have at his disposal whatever resources he needs to get the job done.
"Whatever he needs, he will get," Obama said.
Obama also sought to comfort Gulf Coast residents who might feel as though they face disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the oil spill alone.
The president was scheduled to return to Chicago, where he and his family are enjoying a Memorial Day weekend vacation.