From CBS News' Dante Higgins:
John McCain toured the lower 9th ward of New Orleans today, an area heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and promised, if president, that the government won't mishandle a disaster response the way Katrina was.
"I want to assure the people of the 9th ward, the people of New Orleans, the people of this country never again, never again will a disaster of nature be handled in the terrible and disgraceful way that it was handled. Never again, never again," McCain said. He met with residents, volunteers, and faith based organizations and said he learned one of the things people need most in the area is affordable housing.
Later at historically black Xavier University, McCain added, "We've got a range of issues here in New Orleans correcting the mistakes from the past policies and past actions to the hear and now. I want everyone of us to be able in the near future to walk through the 9th ward and see everyone of those homes restored with people living in them."
McCain said he would enlist the private sector to help during the next disaster. "One of the great aspects of this disaster is we had trucks full of water or ice ending up in Maine meanwhile we had people dehydrated in the superdome…I would utilize some of the corporations and companies that everyday distribute things to the American people, Home Depot, FedEx, Wal-Mart," he said. "One of these companies, they know where every package is every second, because it's their job, it's their job right?"
McCain was asked repeatedly about what he would do for education and he told the room there needed to be choice and competition to make the schools better while rewarding good teachers. One man stood up and noted that everyone in the room was not a Republican. "I got that impression," McCain responded while the audience laughed.