Ellington Airport Houston, Texas September 22 11:10 A.M. CDT
Mr. President, what grade would you give the Coast Guard in Texas?
"A-plus." I give the Coast Guard an "A-plus," and I have for a long time. I don't think there's any brand - no matter where you go - that's gone up more than the Coast Guard. And that started with Harvey, as far as I'm concerned - the big hurricane from a year ago in Texas, which was, I guess, they say, the biggest dump of water we've ever had in this country, and probably so.
I was just asking the difference between Harvey and what happened over the last week. And, you know, Harvey is really in a class by itself, but this was a really bad one. And this one snuck up. It came up pretty quick.
But I will say that they've done a fantastic job - saved I guess, close to 70 lives.
One hundred and thirty-one, sir.
One hundred and thirty-one.
Wow. One hundred and thirty-one.
Now, with Harvey - you've all heard this number - what was the number with Harvey?
I'd have to (inaudible).
Over 11,000, sir.
Eleven thousand (inaudible).
This is 11,000 lives saved at Harvey. The Coast Guard is so important to this country and the job they've done is incredible. As you know, we've ordered new cutters. We have brand new cutters coming, and you already gotten some. And a lot of new equipment. We have new helicopters coming, out of the budget. We spent a trillion and a half dollars, so at least you should get some helicopters out of it, right?
But it's going to be completely rebuilt with brand new ships and boats and helicopters and everything else. So it's really great. Big difference between now and what it was three, four years ago. It's been totally rebuilt. And some equipment is still coming.
When you go to the U.N., what do you want them to do on Iran together with you?
Well, nothing specific. I mean, we're doing our own thing with Iran and with a lot of other places and I think we're doing very well. A lot of - a lot progress is being made in a lot of different ways.
China is coming along well. I actually think that tremendous progress was made over the last little while with respect to the question you just asked, having to do with Iran.
So we'll see. We'll see. But it's all going to work out - always does. We get it to work out. And if it doesn't, sometimes it takes a little longer. But I get things to work out, Steve.
Mr. President, Iran's President Rouhani said that he's going to offer a peace plan of some kind during the U.N. Are you open to hearing him out (inaudible)?
I'm always open. I have no plans to meet with him, but I'm always open. I would meet if they wanted, but I have absolutely no plans to meet.
We're doing very well. They're not doing well. They're having a hard time. And I'd like to see it be a great country. I would like to see Iran be a great and very wealthy country, because it has tremendous capability. It has tremendous people, frankly, and tremendous potential. So, we'll see what happens. Certainly, the United Nations week is going to be very interesting. I look forward to it.
I'm speaking on Tuesday. But on Monday, tomorrow, a lot of meetings with different heads of state.
And I leave for the stadium - the Prime Minister of India has asked me to make a speech and I will make a speech in a stadium loaded up with - I guess we're going to have 70,000 people or something like that, whatever the maximum is. So we're going to have a lot. So, it's the Prime Minister and myself. I look forward to it.
Mr. President, why did you come to this event? What is the message you want to send?
I was asked by Prime Minister Modi if I could come. He asked me about four weeks ago. And I asked him what it was about, and he said it's this very - it's a very big deal for India.
And I'm very close to the folks from India, the folks that love India, because I love India. And I have lot of respect and a great friendship with the Prime Minister. And he said, "Would it possible to do it?" And I said, "I'll make it possible."
So - and I thought, while I was here, I'd come - I wanted to see the Coast Guard. I wanted to see FEMA. I think you would say that working along with FEMA has been a terrific thing, right?
Yes, sir. As always.
They've been great. They've really done a job. And local enforcement, local first responders, and law enforcement - the team has been incredible.
And I've just spoke with the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, who is a fantastic guy. And we will be making everything available. They have a big, big - a lot of water right now in Texas. And we're making the federal government totally available.
So you'll let us know. Any questions, you'll let us know. But you know that's happened. And they've made a lot of progress. And hopefully, now, it's going down pretty good. And people here just fix it up. They get used to it and they fix it up. And it'd be nice if they don't have to get used to it for a little while. We had Harvey and now we have this. So it's pretty tough.
Mr. President, can you talk about the relief that you plan to offer?
But I want - I want to say, FEMA - I want to thank, also, the people from FEMA, the first responders, law enforcement, everybody. And, of course, I'm here with the Coast Guard now. Very special people.
Can you talk about the relief you plan to offer (inaudible)? Is the federal government going to put any money towards the recovery effort?
We're going to be doing money. We're going to be doing a lot of things. We helped the state of Texas.
We've had some very, very big events in Texas and we've been there. We've gotten an "A-plus" from everybody, whether it's Harvey or any of the other, really, tragedies. They were tragedies. But they could have been so much worse.
And, frankly, with the Coast Guard, the number of people - where we talk about thousands and thousands of people were saved. Their lives were saved. What would have been the biggest catastrophe, really, of its kind, ended up being not that. Tremendous damage, some life lost, but you would have been talking about anywhere from 10- to 20- or even 25,000 lives would have been lost. So the Coast Guard has really done a job.
Mr. President, (inaudible) when you see the images of the flooding in Houston yet again, your thought about the resiliency not only of the first responders, but the people of Houston helping each other.
That's right. That's right. The people of Texas are incredible. They go through some of these really catastrophic floods and hurricanes, and the following morning they're up working and making it beautiful.
Read the full transcript HERE
You can visit a collection of all White House posts by clicking here.