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Obama arrives in Pensacola as state leaders plea for help

President Barack Obama visited a Pensacola Beach pier this morning and is now meeting with Gov. Charlie Crist, CFO Alex Sink, Sen. George LeMieux and Congressman Jeff Miller and Escambia County officials to discuss the state's needs as a four-mile-long, two-mile wide plume washes toward shore.

Their message: takeover. Takeover the claims process from BP, takeover the legal hurdles that prevent foreign skimmers from coming to Florida and takeover the communications process that has Florida playing second fiddle to the other states.

Sink said her message is its time for the feds to assume control of the oil disaster claims process, as the state does with hurricanes. "It's unacceptable, these businesses are facing bankruptcy now...we need a takeover and send BP the bill," she said.

LeMieux wants Obama to use his executive powers to lift the Jones Act and allow foreign nations to send skimmers to the gulf. "The State Department says 17 countries have offered 21 skimmers and the White House has refused,'' he said. "That doesn't make any sense to me.''

County Commission Chairman Grover Robinson said the communications structure is hindering their response "take the handcuffs off local government." He want the president to give Florida a guaranteed recovery plan, funded by the escrow account the president is expected to see.

"What we really need is a long-term financial plan,'' said Sheriff David Morgan. 

 Obama will later address students at the Naval Air Station and return to D.C. tonight where he will outline his specific plans and expectations in a prime-time Oval Office speech.