ByÂ CAROL E. LEE, Politico
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. â€“ The White House has quietly launched an effort to confront the political backlash along the Gulf Coast over its handling of theÂ BP oil spill â€“ giving special attention to Florida, the only state in the region President Barack Obama won in 2008 and one he will need again when he runs for re-election in 2012.
The White House dispatched political and communications aides to the Gulf Coast states on July 12, with Alabama and Mississippi each receiving one, sources familiar with the effort said. Some aides went to Louisiana. Florida received four.
TheÂ battleground state will be a heavy lift. In interviews along the coast, Florida Democrats accused the administration of largely ignoring their calls and letters, and complained of a White House thatâ€™s out of touch.
Alex Sink, Floridaâ€™s chief financial officer and presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee, even characterized Vice President Joe Bidenâ€™s recent visit to the state as â€œa screw-up,â€ saying she was â€œembarrassedâ€ by his speech.
â€œIt was just so off-target and out of touch with the reality of whatâ€™s going on over there,â€ Sink said in an interview at the Florida Democratic Party headquarters in Tallahassee.
Itâ€™s the type of criticism theÂ White House wants to avoid. The administration aides in Florida function similarly to a campaign. They do rapid response and media coordination, and they report back to senior aides in the West Wing in nearly real time about what theyâ€™re hearing on the ground.
The effort came about after the White House grew concerned over political damage from not having a permanent presence in the Gulf Coast states. Obamaâ€™s top advisers summoned a small group of young, former campaign staffers working in the administration to the White House for a meeting, said a source with knowledge of the meeting. No one mentioned 2012 specifically, but it was clear the administrationâ€™s approach to the oil spill had the potential to hurt the presidentâ€™s re-election campaign, and the issue required more hands-on attention.
â€œSomeone recognized that all we were doing was playing defense,â€ an administration official said. The aides were sent to the Gulf Coast five days later.
Don’t let the MSM censor your news as America becomes Great Again. Over 500,000 Americans receive our daily dose of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness along with Breaking News direct to their inbox—and you can too. Sign up to receive news and views from The 1776Coalition!
We know how important your privacy is and your information is SAFE with us. We’ll never sell
your email address and you can unsubscribe at any time directly from your inbox.