Obama’s Florida trip pushes solar energy

October 27th, 2009 by


President Barack Obama is scheduled to arrive in Florida Monday afternoon for a two-day trip that mixes policy and politics.

He plans to address service personnel at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, raise money for Democratic congressional candidates Monday evening in Miami Beach and attend the opening of a solar energy plant Tuesday in Central Florida.

The president’s visit to Florida Power & Light’s new plant in Arcadia comes amid a rash of negative publicity about the utility’s high salaries and close ties to regulators as it seeks a $1.3 billion rate hike.

At a fundraiser at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, Obama will be joined by Sen. Bill Nelson and all of the state’s Democrats in Congress — including the party’s front-runner for Florida’s other Senate seat, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami.

Meek, who is not well known outside of South Florida, will try to raise his profile during Obama’s trip by talking up his visit at a Jacksonville news conference and greeting him when he gets off of Air Force One in Miami.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is also expected at the Monday night fundraiser. Earlier in the day, Pelosi and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston are slated to tout health insurance reform legislation at the Sunrise Senior Center.

Obama carried Florida in the 2008 presidential election, giving the Democratic Party a hard-fought victory in the nation’s largest battleground state. But in his second trip to Florida since his election, Obama will find fewer voters who approve of the way he’s doing his job and more without jobs of their own.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll pegs his approval at 48 percent, down from 64 percent in February when he went to Fort Myers to pitch his economic stimulus plan at the outset of his presidency. Meanwhile, unemployment has risen to 11 percent.

In an ad airing Monday through Wednesday on Spanish-language radio, the national Republican Party claims Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package hasn’t created jobs and that healthcare reform will hurt seniors.

“Big federal spending programs, no improvement in jobs and Medicare cuts,” the ad says. “That’s just not good enough. We can’t afford for things to keep on this way. Mr. President — is this the best you can do?”

Gov. Charlie Crist won’t be joining Obama as he did in February in an appearance that drew the wrath of the conservative wing of his party. Crist said he’ll be busy with a Cabinet meeting, although he skipped one the last time the president was in town.

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