Barack Obama gave a speech yesterday in which he spoke about the tragic tornado in Greensburg, Kansas. During the speech he said that 10,000 people died in the tornado when the death toll so far is twelve.
RICHMOND, Va. – Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record), caught up in the fervor of a campaign speech Tuesday, drastically overstated the Kansas tornadoes death toll, saying 10,000 had died. The death toll was 12.
“In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died — an entire town destroyed,” the Democratic presidential candidate said in a speech to 500 people packed into a sweltering Richmond art studio for a fundraiser.
Obama mentioned the disaster in Greensburg, Kan., in saying he had been told by the office of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that the state’s National Guard had been depleted by its commitment to the
“Turns out that the National Guard in Kansas only had 40 percent of its equipment and they are having to slow down the recovery process in Kansas,” Obama said, his shirt sleeves rolled up and his head glistening with sweat.
As the Illinois senator concluded his remarks a few minutes later, he appeared to realize his gaffe.
“There are going to be times when I get tired,” he said. “There are going to be times when I get weary. There are going to be times when I make mistakes.”
Obama spokesman Bill Burton said later that the senator meant to say “at least 10,” instead of 10,000.
Yikes. That’s quite a misstatement. However, it’s his assertion that the state of Kansas is ill equipped to handle a disaster like this was inaccurate. Even the governor has backed off her statement that she didn’t have all the heavy equipment she needed because, it seems, she realized that such an admission makes her look stupid:
[Tony] Snow recounted a phone conversation on Tuesday between [Governor] Sebelius and Bush’s White House-based homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend, in which the governor said she was pleased with the federal performance on the tornado and had everything she needed.
About the same time, Sebelius was doing her own backpedal from across the country.
Her spokeswoman, Nicole Corcoran, said the governor didn’t mean to imply that the state was ill-equipped to deal with this storm. Sebelius’ comments about National Guard equipment were, instead, meant as a warning about the state’s inability to handle additional disasters, such as another tornado or severe flooding, she said.
“We are doing absolutely fine right now,” Corcoran said. “What the governor is talking about is down the road.”
You don’t make the citizens of your state feel at all confident in your abilities to help lead them through a disaster like this one when your first instinct is to bash the President to gain political points. The folks who are suffering in Greensburg don’t give a wit about politics. They just want help.
Update: Here’s the video of Obama saying 10,000 people died in Kansas: