President Barack Obama is rewriting Florida’s advertising tagline: Come for the sun and soak up the electoral votes.
When Air Force One lands Thursday in Miami then Orlando, it will mark Obama’s 14th visit since his inauguration, and second this year.
Not to mention trips this month by Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama, and a string of previous jaunts by the two. Tampa, Tallahassee, Orlando, Homestead, Cape Canaveral, Sarasota, Miami.... They’ve been everywhere.
As Obama’s re-election effort accelerates, the frequent travel to Florida and other key states highlights a major advantage of incumbency and raises questions about politicking on taxpayer time and money. Turn on CNN these days and you’re likely to see Obama on the road, with a campaign rally-like crowd behind him.
With 29 electoral votes, Florida is the biggest prize among the 10 most closely watched battleground states. The Obama campaign has several paths to 270 electoral votes without Florida, but Republicans haven’t won the presidency without Florida in nearly 90 years.
“It would be naïve to think there wasn’t a political or campaign purpose to most of his travel,” said Gary Jacobson, a political science professor at the University of California San Diego who has studied presidential travel. “It’s part of the permanent campaign presidents are engaged in these days.”