Obama in Jax, Mayor Out of Town

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.

Obama greeted by the locals

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.

Why Doesn’t Rush Like Daniels?

Rush Limbaugh has had his finger on the pulse of mainstream conservatism and mainstream media for decades. When the media said only McCain could beat Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, Rush was sounding the alarm. So why is Rush now sounding the alarm on Mitch Daniels?

Daniels has received some pretty glowing endorsements, or as glowing as a Republican can get, from the Washington Post and others. He has been described as the candidate in 2012 who has a serious shot at beating Obama. No doubt, Rush is hearing echos of the media love McCain received right up until the end of the 2012 primary.

Best hope of the Right? Or the Left?

In many ways, Daniels has brought this on himself. Instead of going to CPAC and announcing that if a bill cutting off all abortion funding came across his desk he’d sign it, Daniels appealed to fiscal conservatives across the country calling on a truce on social issues so that we could solve our debt crisis. When he did sign the bill banning funding even for Planned Parenthood in Indiana, for the most part it was ignored by the media. When Obama was being praised for killing Osama Bin Laden and Daniels was taking questions on Obama’s foreign policy, Daniels admitted he wasn’t ready to debate Obama on foreign policy.

Remember when McCain said the economy was not his strong suit? Trust me, if Obama has his way the economy will not be a debate topic in 2012. Foreign policy will be. By continuing Bush’s foreign policies, Obama has found something he can campaign successfully on. By wavering on foreign policy, Daniels is certainly not setting himself up as the candidate who can beat Obama.

On the other hand, Daniels has been slowly and methodically implementing his very conservative (both socially and fiscally) agenda in Indiana. After cooling off a showdown with unions in Indiana when Democrats walked out, Daniels has quietly passed many of the same provisions including limiting teacher’s union negotiating to wages and wage related benefits. Compared to the messy protests in Scott Walker’s state over the issues, Daniels is enjoying anonymity in his war on public unions. Indiana has been one of the few fiscally sound states under Mitch Daniels.

Perhaps Daniels would be a great conservative President. It’s difficult to tell at this point if he is a silent leader who could change our country for the better, or if he represents everything that was wrong with McCain, Thompson, Guiliani and the rest of the 2008 Republican class.

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