Riptide is live today from Ft. Myers, Florida for Barack Obama's first visit to Florida as President of the United States of America. He'll be continuing the themes from his stop in Elkhart, Indiana and his first press conference last night, talking up the need for a stimulus package.
The event will be a town hall style meeting, with the President taking questions from residents, and is scheduled to start around noon.
We are blogging live now, right after jump. Refresh often.
12:10 - Gov. Crist and President Obama came out of the same time to a "Yes We Can" chant.
12:11 - Charlie mentions our little budget crisis here in Florida. "*hint* *hint* Obama, maybe you can help us out with that, knowhatimean?" He also mentions bipartisanship.
12:11 - Oh, Obama with your jokes. "It is good to be in Florida, especially in February." I am ROFLing here.
12:12 - People in attendance: Alex Sink, Ft. Myers Mayor Jim Humphrey, Reps: Grayson, Boyd, Brown, Castor, Meek, Klein, Kosmas, Wasserman Schultz, Wexler. All your favorites.
12:13 - I also heard Stacy Ritter is here. As of yet she hasn't accosted hasn't leered at me with a look in her eyes that says, "oh, New Times, you're just a glorified penis pump salesman"
12:14 - "Everybody needs to grab a hose, and that's what Charlie Crist is doing" - President Obama. Did you just make a gay joke?
12:15 - Obama gives big ups to Charlie Crist. The conservative blogosphere is going to scalp his snowy white head for this. Mark my words.
12:16 - Did you know Chico's, the fine store for the funky yet refined older woman and Michael Phelp's mom, is based in Lee County? It is, and Obama just mentioned it.
12:19 - Where is Senator Bill Nelson, hmmm?
12:20 - By the way, this is sort of personal for me. My Dad used to be a Ft. Myers business owner. Not anymore. 'Nuff said. That also means, thought, that I am the only journalist here who brought there laundry along for their Mom to do.
12:21 - Obama mentions the Miami Fire Fighter line (1000 people in line for 35 jobs) again. He mentioned it last night in his fancy prime time press conference.
12:23 - All in all this is a retread of last night. He's going into detail on some things though, like extending health care, helping to slow foreclosures.
12:23 - $1,000 tax relief to middle class families. $2,500 tax credit for families sending children to college.
12:25 -90% of the jobs, he promises, will be in the private sector to build wind turbines, and green jet packs and such.
12:25 - Broadband internet access for rural schools.
12:27 - "I'm not going to tell you this plan is perfect, I mean it was produced in Washington." The crowd LOLs, but Charlie Crist's grabbing hose joke is by far my favorite.
12:30 - Something just happened. I am sitting n the background. People LOLed and clapped. Some guy stands up with his laptop on a chair.
12:30 - Thank you Mr. President. He explained it for us. He was saying "....this economy will be measured in years" and someone says "You've got eight." Then Obama repeats the joke for the TV audience.
12:30 - Q+A Time. God, I bet they'll be better than half the professional questions from the press last night
12:36 - The first lady works for Edison College (where my sister will go, if she doesn't get her grades up, you hear me, Cali?) and asks what he's gonna do about vocational training. Obama mentions that tax credit.
12:37 - I am trying to pretend I understand this question about equity and mortgages.
12:39 - Health care reform question. "When [health care is] broken, that effects everything." Here's what's in the stimulus bill: Helping states with medicaid, the Gov will (partially?) subsidize health care if you lose your job (COBRA is a stupid law sometimes, and it is, and Obama knows it), and getting rid of forms in favor an electronic data system. It is these stupid hospital forms that have killed the economy.
12:46 - Maybe we will build a smart grid, so when we have extra energy we can export it to our friendly states to the north, which sounds nice, but there is no infrastructure for it. Don't they do that in Sim CIty?
12:50 - People hate CEOs.
12:51 - SWFL is a Republican hot bed. Where are all the wingnuts? Where is some crazy cat lady to ask him if it is true that he is Arab?
12:52 - My understanding were that 250 tickets were given out randomly at 8:30 yesterday orning. Account for the Press and the politically connected types, there are not much more than 250 people left in here. Some of these people asking questions.
12:54 - OBAMA ANNOUNCES THE RECOVERY PLAN HAS PASSED IN THE SENATE. The crowd goes crazy.
12:54- Oh, duh. That is where Bill Nelson is.
12:55 - Man asking question: "I want to thank you for coming down and listening to us today. This hasn't happened to us in the past 8 years." Zing!
12:58 - Wow, things got heavy. Henrietta Hughes, a very sweet older lady who lives in a van, I believe, asks for help. Obama says he'll have his staff talk to her later.
1:04 - Obama says if this whole things ends up sucking, then America will probably have a new president in four years.
1:05 - A City Councilwoman from Bonita Spring asks the next question, and says "We don't want to drill in the gulf, thank you very much." Moderate, but enthusiastic clapping.
1:06 - Woah, woah, woah. Obama says the airports in Beijin are much better than the Miami airport. He just called you out M.I.A. for being a horrible, horrible airport. Best fix up.
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1:08 - "Women, you better all sit down." He is going boy, girl, boy, girl fyi, so the last question goes to a gentleman.
1:09 - And the last man he picks is a student at Edison who works at McDonalds, and is very excited to see Mr. President. I do not understand what he has asked at all. AT ALL.
1:10 - Well, that is over. That was pretty much an hour long on the dot.
1:12 - Do I go out and ask people questions now? "How did you enjoy listening to the president?" That is what blog comments are for.