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Clinton criticizes Bush on Katrina

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Tuesday accused President Bush of continuing to mishandle his response to Hurricane Katrina, saying the struggles along the Gulf Coast undercut the administration's claim that it has made the nation safer.

"While the administration likes to claim that we are safer today than we were on 9/1 1, there's absolutely no concrete evidence that our response capabilities are better now than they were then," Clinton said at a news conference.

Flanked on Capitol Hill by Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Ken Salazar of Colorado, Clinton continued her recent questioning of the Bush administration's competence.

"If we don't fix the problems that exist now, if this White House continues to stonewall investigations while keeping in place the same officials who bungled the response, then every community in this nation is at risk if man-made terrorist or natural disaster strikes us," she said.

Speaking a week after Bush released a proposed budget that includes little additional aid for rebuilding the Gulf Coast, the Democratic senators offered examples of the lagging federal response to the massive storm.

Clinton noted that 10,000 trailers owned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency are stored in Hope, Ark. -- hometown of her husband, former President Bill Clinton when they could be housing storm victims.

The Bush administration has blamed state and local officials for the situation, which, Landrieu said, is typical.

Clinton has pushed for action in the wake of Katrina, visiting hurricane victims and advocating an independent investigation of the federal response to the storm.

Amid her increasing criticism of Bush, the Republican Party has fired back. When asked about Clinton's comment that the Bush administration was "one of the worst" in history, first lady Laura Bush told ABC News that those comments were "out of bounds."

Mrs. Bush also suggested that Clinton, as a former first lady, should have more empathy for the current president.

Clinton said she had "a lot of empathy" for Bush, but added: "In my capacity as a U.S. senator, I represent the great state of New York -- 19 million people who have a lot of questions about the policies of the administration. And I would not be doing my job if I were not asking some of those tough questions."


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