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Obama to deploy volunteers to help victims

From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
LIMA, OH -- After attending church service at St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Obama kept the focus on Hurricane Gustav during a brief press conference here, telling reporters he was prepared to mobilize a network of volunteers to help the victims of the storm once it was clear what kind of aid was needed.

"I think we can get tons of volunteers to travel down there if it becomes necessary," he told said, according to a pool report. "So it becomes a question of what people on the ground need and once we determine that then we can activate our email list of a couple of million people who want to give back."

Obama said he was monitoring the situation and that officials in the area were doing everything they could "to execute a effective evacuation, but we need people's cooperation so that's the message I'm going to be sending throughout the day."

He said donations from his millions-strong email list of volunteers and donors could include cash, and he responded to the news that John McCain, his wife Cindy, and his running mate Sarah Palin were traveling to Mississippi today at the invitation of Gov. Haley Barbour.

"A big storm like this raises bipartisan concerns, and I think for John to want to find out what's going on is fine," he said. "The thing that I always am concerned about in the middle of a storm is whether we're drawing resources away from folks on the ground because the Secret Service and various security requirements sometimes it pulls police, fire ,and other departments away from concentrating on the job. I'm assuming that where he went that wasn't an issue. We're going to try to stay clear of the area until things have settled down and then we'll probably try to figure out how we can be as helpful as possible."

Vice presidential nominee Joe Biden went to a Catholic Church, St. Brendan's in Hilliard. The two were set to meet up in Toledo to host a discussion on the economy.