Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In Florida, President Obama thanks troops, raises cash

President Barack Obama dashed from a Navy hangar in Jacksonville to a swanky Miami Beach hotel Monday to buff his image in a recession-weary state and bag $1.5 million to defend the Democratic majority in Congress.

Obama's second trip to Florida since the state helped seal his 2008 election had the feel of an ambitious campaign swing.

And this time, unlike in February, Republican Gov. Charlie Crist — who has his own U.S. Senate race to worry about — was not by his side.

Obama began his visit to Florida at a rally with 3,500 service personnel at the sprawling Naval Air Station in Jacksonville. The helicopter crashes that killed 14 Americans in Afghanistan on Monday served as a tragic backdrop.

Obama defended himself against GOP accusations that he's dithered on whether to dispatch more troops.

"And while I will never hesitate to use force to protect the American people or our vital interests, I also promise you this — and this is very important as we consider our next steps in Afghanistan," Obama said. "I will never rush the decision of sending you into harm's way. I won't risk your lives unless it is absolutely necessary. And if it is necessary, we will back you up."

Before his speech, the president held a private meeting with families who have lost sons and daughters in war. On stage, he paid tribute to Michael Scott Speicher, a naval aviator from Jacksonville whose remains were brought home last summer, 18 years after his plane crashed in Iraq.

The president was surrounded by hundreds of enlisted men and women in crisply starched uniforms, as large aircraft — symbols of America's military prowess — were parked strategically in camera range.

The crowd cheered when Obama said he'll soon sign a defense bill that increases military spending, and he cited military-related stimulus projects such as a child development center at nearby Mayport Naval Air Station.

At the Miami Beach fundraiser, tickets cost $500, though some donors paid as much as $100,000 to dine with the president.

Obama was introduced at the fundraiser by Sen. Bill Nelson and joined by other Democratic members of Congress — including the party's front-runner for Florida's other Senate seat, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami.

Meek is not well known outside of South Florida and tried to raise his profile by talking up Obama's visit at a Jacksonville news conference and greeting him when he disembarked from Air Force One in Miami.

Also waiting for Obama on the tarmac in Miami: Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the leading Democratic candidate to replace Crist as governor; state Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, a candidate for attorney general; and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.

About 200 protesters gathered across the street from the hotel with a wide range of gripes, from health care to immigration to the president's golf game, which until Sunday had never included a woman. The crowd included Haitians calling for asylum, antiabortion activists, gun rights advocates and opponents of toppled Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

Miami Herald staff writers Lesley Clark and Trenton Daniel and Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

In Florida, President Obama thanks troops, raises cash 10/26/09 [Last modified: Monday, October 26, 2009 11:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Cubs down Dodgers 3-2; force NLCS Game 5 Thursday

    Ml

    CHICAGO — Javier Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, former Ray Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and the Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

  2. One of the best places for investing in a rental house is in Tampa Bay

    Real Estate

    Two Tampa Bay ZIP Codes are drawing national attention.

    . If you're looking to invest in a house to rent out, few places are better than  ZIP Code 34607 in Hernando County's Spring Hill area, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.
[LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Times
 file photo]

  3. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  4. Suspect in Maryland office park shooting is apprehended

    Nation

    EDGEWOOD, Md. — A man with a lengthy criminal past who was fired from a job earlier this year for punching a colleague showed up for work at a countertop company on Wednesday and shot five of his co-workers has been arrested, authorities said. Three of them were killed and two critically wounded.

    Harford County, Md., Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler shows a picture of Radee Labeeb Prince, the suspect in the workplace shootings.
  5. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.