JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As President Barack Obama arrived at the port of Jacksonville, supporters of the Republican Party and those opposed to the Keystone pipeline were holding signs, hoping to catch the president's eye.
Hours before Air Force One touched down, Republican Party leaders tried to get a jump on his message, holding a news conference to say that the jobs being created in Florida are thanks to Gov. Rick Scott, not the president.
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry was joined by Sen. John Thrasher, state Rep. Janet Adkins, new Duval County GOP Chairman Rick Hartley and others in saying the president should not try to take credit for the lower unemployment, the new private sector jobs and the port projects funded by $38 million approved earlier this year by Scott and the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature.
One thing they hope to hear from the president is that he will try to put an end to furloughs for the National Guard and civilian employees of the Department of Defense.
"These are hard-working men and women, you know, who depend on the salaries that they get," Thrasher said. "Think about it: If anyone out there in our viewing area had a 20-percent pay cut all of a sudden -- furloughed off every Friday -- it's just not right."
Scott released the following statement in anticipation of the president's visit:
"The President said yesterday that you have to 'be for something' to help the country's economy and that he will push for 'new initiatives to help more manufacturers.' In Florida, we now exempt 70 percent of businesses from paying the corporate income tax and we just eliminated the sales tax on manufacturing equipment. On the federal level, however, the United States now has the highest corporate income tax rate among developed countries across the world."
As the president's motorcade arrived at JaxPort, about a half dozen Sierra Club protesters were spotted just beyond the port gate protesting the Keystone pipeline. They were holding signs warning the pipeline will cause more floods and hurricanes.
And another four or five people in another cluster held signs saying "We love Obama."
When the president's motorcade arrived at the cruise terminal later Thursday afternoon, Republican protesters lined Heckscher Drive showing their displeasure with the job the president has done.