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Obama heading back to Gulf Coast

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • President to make fourth trip to region since oil spill began
  • He gave blunt defense of administration on "Today" show
  • Poll finds slight majority disapprove of handling of spill

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama will make another visit to the Gulf Coast next week to review efforts to contain and clean up the worst oil spill in U.S. history, the White House announced Tuesday.

Obama's Monday and Tuesday itineraries will include stops in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, three of the four states affected by the 50-day-old disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the White House announced. It will be his fourth trip to the region since the spill erupted in late April.

On Friday, Obama was in Grand Isle, Louisiana, where he met with local business leaders directly affected by the undersea gusher and huddled with regional officials involved in the response effort.

Tuesday's announcement followed Obama's blunt defense of his administration's handling of the disaster in an interview on NBC's "Today" show. Asked about complaints that his public appearances have been too cerebral and reserved, Obama said, "This is not theater."

"I don't sit around talking to experts because this is a college seminar," he said. "We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick."

Obama said that his administration's response is the largest mobilization against an environmental catastrophe in the history of the federal government and that officials understood "from day one" that the spill would be a major disaster. He said it is "tough" to see images of oil-smeared birds or meet fishermen "who are on the verge of tears," but "we just got to keep on moving."

"It is going to be tough, but we're going to get through it," he said.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Monday found that a slight majority of the American public disapproves of the administration's handling of the spill. Only 46 percent approved of how the White House is dealing with the situation, while 51 percent disapprove, the survey found -- and 53 percent predicted that efforts to contain the spill will fail.

But more than three-quarters of the same survey disapproved of how oil company BP, whose ruptured undersea well is the source of the spill, has handled the crisis.

And Obama said BP CEO Tony Hayward "wouldn't be working for me" after some of his remarks about the situation.