Obama received a cool reception in Jacksonville, FL on Thursday, where his campaign managed to give away about 3,000 tickets to bring a crowd into the smaller venue in town. Also in attendance were protestors from several GOP groups. One notable absence was Democrat mayor Alvin Brown. This is the second Obama appearance he has been out of town for.
It is not surprising that Brown hasn’t rearranged his schedule to join the President. The Mayor has been accused by many of being too conservative to be a Democrat. Even with the latest budget, he refused to raise taxes and instead sought to cut spending again. Also, instead of demeaning business owners, Mayor Brown has spent a great deal of time courting businesses and bringing them (along with their jobs) to Jacksonville.
Jacksonville is an important swing city in a very important swing state. Last time around, Obama drew a crowd of 9,000 at the Veterans Memorial. It was the day before the election and Obama mistakenly thought he was in Ohio. It’s still early in the race, and Obama could ramp up attendance as we get closer. But the vibe in town was certainly different than it was four years ago. Obama no longer carries the big tent revival aura or celebrity status that he once did. I would be surprised if he lost northeast Florida by only 8,000 votes this time around.