Presidential Visit Politics

The President’s visit to Ft. Myers has prompted a fascinating political fandango in Florida.

Charlie Crist’s give-and-take with reporters in Orlando at midday Monday, for instance.  The Gov supports a Federal stimulus spending plan in general, while every FL Republican on Capitol Hill has voted against the stimulus packages.

Crist tried his best not to criticize Congressional Republicans, doing some pretty fancy rhetorical dancing, in the process.

When asked about his contacts with Sen. Mel Martinez, Crist said “I probably pester him too much. I call him every day.”   Reporters pressed Crist on Martinez’ intention to vote no on stimulus.  Crist responded by saying how hard the Senator had been working to “save  some of  the education funding” the Senate had cut from the House bill, and said blithely “I hope he continues to help.”

Martinez, meanwhile, didn’t make his “no” vote sound like a close call, blasting the compromise stimulus package before the Senate as falling “far short of providing the timely, targeted, and temporary stimulus” the country needs.

Gov. Crist will journey to Ft. Myers to introduce the Democratic President as he stumps for stimulus, surely prompting more complaints from Republicans that Crist is a “RINO”- Republican in name only.  The event’s being held in the heart of the district represented by Cong. Connie Mack III.  Republican Mack says the stimulus package is “chock full of pork.”

Some Democratic politi-drama also surrounds the Obama visit to Ft. Myers.  Cong. Kendrick Meek will fly with the President, aboard Air Force One, to the Town Hall event.  Meek’s spokesman made sure to let reporters around the state know that, this afternoon, his press release quoting the Congressman as saying: “Floridians cannot afford a business as usual approach in Washington during these worrisome economic times.”

Meek is, of course, running for Mel Martinez’s Senate seat.  His high-profile flight arrangement must be galling to St. Sen. Dan Gelber, his announced opponent in the 2010 Democratic primary.  Gelber was supporting Obama when Meek was still doing the talk-show rounds for Hillary Clinton last spring, and Gelber’s got Obama’s FL campaign director running his Senate bid.

But Gelber will be at committee meetings in Tallahassee while Meek shares a plane ride, and the stage, with the President.  Ouch.


3 Responses

  1. I understand why Governor Crist is being called a RINO. I also feel that he comes too close to a democrat for my blood, however, in this particular case what choice did he have?

    Had he shunned the Presidential visit, people would accuse him of being detached and unfeeling toward the concerns of the community. So he had no choice in this matter.

    Additionally, It’s not very good to snub the President less than 30 days into his term. It can prove cold and lonely in the shade of this turbulent economy and Governor Crist can use all the governmental assistance possible to help Florida get out of the red.

    Governor Crist may very well be a RINO but just this once; we have to cut him some slack.

  2. I just finished watching your broadcast on the President’s trip to Fort Meyers. I was appalled to hear you refer to the President as “Mr. Obama”. He is the President of the United States and deserves the title bestowed upon him by the citizens. Your disrespect was evident.

    • I’m not sure what, if any, newspapers you read, but standard practice for a 2nd reference to the president is to refer to him as “Mr. ___” (check out today’s NY Times article on the stimulus package). I called the 43rd President “Mr. Bush” in stories for 8 years, and never got a single complaint. I was always taught that it was disrespectful to refer to the president as merely Obama or Bush, and that adding Mr. was more respectful.

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