BAYOU LA BATRE, Ala. — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday defended President Bush against charges that the government’s sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina showed racial insensitivity.
“Nobody, especially the president, would have left people unattended on the basis of race,” the administration’s highest-ranking black official said as she toured her native Alabama.
Rice’s visit came as some black leaders, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, have criticized the response to the disaster, the victims of which have been mostly black and poor. They have said racial injustice was a factor in the government’s slow relief effort.
Republican Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, escorting Rice, said power had been restored to all but about 50,000 residents and businesses, while up to 2,500 Alabamians were still looking for shelter. Some Alabamians expressed frustration.
“It’s so unfortunate that the time it’s taken to rescue them is too long,” Democratic state Rep. Yvonne Kennedy said.