Bush on Katrina: How 'bout them Saints?

In an off-camera interview with a New Orleans reporter, the president shows he's got a firm handle on the NFL.

Published August 25, 2006 5:37PM (EDT)

In a round of Katrina anniversary interviews with Gulf Coast television stations Thursday, George W. Bush said he understands the frustrations people are still feeling, gave himself a grade of "incomplete" on "eliminating bureaucratic hurdles," and boasted about "getting a big check written for the area."

But as Dan Froomkin reports, the president's most interesting comments appear to have come after the television cameras were off. Doug Walker of Biloxi's WLOX said that Bush asked him "question after question about our recovery" after the videotaped portion of their interview ended. Bush was "very candid about FEMA," Walker says, and he left the newsman "feeling the president was concerned about the coast and wanted to help us as much as possible."

Biloxi is in Mississippi, of course. When Bush sat down with a TV reporter from New Orleans, he had a different line of questioning in mind. "We only had a limited time today in our one-on-one interview," reports Mike Hoss of WWL-TV. "But after it was over, [Bush] told the crew to turn off all the cameras, and he leaned over and he asked me, 'So what about the Reggie Bush deal? How are fans liking that? Do you think Houston made the wrong call in going with Mario Williams?' He asked about Tom Benson. He talked about the Saints and their amazing season-ticket sales and what that's done for New Orleans and the region. So, we spent about three or four minutes talking about that."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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