President Obama to visit Fort Myers on Tuesday
President Obama will be in Fort Myers on Tuesday to gain support for the stimulus package, the White House announced Friday.
Obama is expected to host a town hall meeting. The stop is part of a tour of areas hardest hit by the economic downturn.
A town hall event will be held Tuesday morning, said Will Prather, chairman of the Lee County Democratic Party. The event will be ticketed, he said, but he didn’t know if admission would be free.
Prather said Obama’s advance team hasn’t come down yet, and the exact time and venue of the meeting have yet to be decided.
Area Democratic leader and longtime political observer Chuck Mohlke said it is unprecedented for a sitting Democratic President to visit Southwest Florida.
“Carter was never here. Clinton made multiple trips to Florida, but never to Southwest Florida,” Mohlke said.
He said Southwest Florida may have been chosen because of the success of Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign stop in Lee County in October. “(Area Democrats) raised a lot of money for Obama-Biden,” he said.
Also, President Obama may be trying to shore up the support of Florida’s two senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Mel Martinez, for his economic stimulus plan.
He pointed out that even though Nelson is a Democrat, he voted against the previous economic package aimed at bolstering failing financial institutions.
State party officials say a focus of the president’s visit will be talking to people who have recently lost jobs in the economic downturn.
Obama plans to participate in town hall-style meetings next week in two cities that have struggled amid the crumbling economy. Before visiting Fort Myers on Tuesday, the president plans to visit Elkhart, Ind., on Monday to tell residents what his $900 billion stimulus plan would mean for them, said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Friday.
The president’s economic recovery plan is being delayed in Congress as lawmakers argue about its price and its priorities.
In Fort Myers, unemployment has climbed to 10 percent, while Indiana’s Elkhart-Goshen region saw its unemployment rate soar to 15.3 percent in December.
Congressman Connie Mack, FL-14, said he welcomes to president to Southwest Florida.
“I join the people of Southwest Florida in welcoming President Obama to Fort Myers next week,” said Mack in a prepared statement. “The people of Southwest Florida, the State of Florida, and the nation are hurting. We need to move quickly to enact policies that will give our economy the boost it desperately needs.”
Mack also took the opportunity to reiterate his opposition to Obama’s stimulus plan.
“While he is here, we hope the President will take the time to listen to the people’s views on why the Democrats’ ‘stimulus’ plan won’t stimulate the economy, and why we need pro-growth solutions that will create jobs and jumpstart our economy,” he said.
“The people of Southwest Florida, and indeed the nation, want to see a plan that will get our economy moving — not a plan that is chock-full of spending for pork and special interests.”