Obama to Gulf Residents: "We're In This Together"

Updated at 3:43 p.m. ET

I'm the president, and the buck stops with me," President Obama said from the Gulf Coast of Louisiana today, seeking to end any questions of whether he is trying to pass the blame for the ongoing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

After coming under enormous pressure to take a more visible role in the government response to the ongoing Gulf oil spill, Mr. Obama traveled today to the Gulf Coast of Louisiana to personally survey the impacted region and take note of the progress of the clean up and containment efforts.

In his second visit to the region since the spill began, the president met with governors and congressmen from the area, as well as Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen. Earlier today, he surveyed the Louisiana bayous in a helicopter ride and then, with Allen as his guide, examined oil collecting along Fourchon Beach.

Speaking from Grand Isle, Louisiana, Mr. Obama said he gave a "solemn pledge" to do "whatever it takes" to end the oil spill.

"We're in this together, and it's going to be a difficult time," he said.

Millions of gallons of oil have poured into the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 people. The president warned that "even if the leak was stopped today, it wouldn't change the fact that these waters contain oil from what has become the largest spill in history."

The president said he has ordered federal officials to triple the manpower in places where oil already has hit the shore.

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Because the nation has never dealt with an oil spill of this size before, Mr. Obama warned, "not every judgment that we make is going to be right the first time out."

Republicans have criticized the president's leadership in the face of the disaster, suggesting it has been half-hearted. Just yesterday, he held his first news conference on the subject, defending his administration's efforts to address the disaster while maintaining that BP is responsible for the clean up and containment efforts.

"I'm here to tell you you are not alone. You will not be abandoned. You will not be left behind," Mr. Obama said today, addressing residents of the Gulf region. "The cameras at some point may leave, the media may get tired of this story, but we will not."

The president noted that there are programs in place to assist small business owners impacted by the disaster, as well as the fact that doctors have been deployed to monitor any health issues residents or clean up crews may face.

Allen said on CBS' "Early Show" today that the cleanup has been enormously difficult.

"It's a real, real tough challenge, especially in the remote areas where you have marshlands involved," he said.

BP is currently trying to cap the leaking oil well by shooting heavy mud into the leak -- a method called "top kill." It is so far unclear whether it is working.

"If it is successful, it would obviously be welcome news," Mr. Obama said, adding that Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, is leading a group of engineers in developing contingency plans.

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