Calling the decision a foolish game of cat and mouse, the president of the Louisville NAACP says Gov. Steve Beshear is snubbing President Barack Obama, and it could cost him votes in the general election.
Mr. Obama is making his first visit as president to the commonwealth Friday to meet with troops at Fort Campbell. He will also have a private meeting with members of the Navy SEAL team that killed al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. But Beshear will miss the president’s visit in order to fulfill his Oak’s Day obligations instead.
NAACP President Raoul Cuningham says Beshear’s excuse is sketchy, and Mr. Obama’s biggest supporters are paying attention to the decision.
“And I think the governor needs to hope that African-Americans will not play hide and seek on him this election as he has played on the president. I think the governor is assuming that African-Americans have no place to go. However, it will not assist him in his election in voter turnout,” he says.
A Beshear spokesperson told the Lexington Herald-Leader the White House travel plans weren’t confirmed until late Wednesday, however, the schedule was sent to the press in the afternoon.
Despite it being a potentially tough election year coupled with Mr. Obama’s low approval ratings in the state, Cunningham says the country is unified behind the president in the aftermath of bin Laden’s death.
The civil rights leader also points out that the president quickly granted a disaster relief request for the state at Beshear’s request.
“Political hide and seek has gone on for a long time in Kentucky, especially in regards to Barack Obama,” he says. “There are certain political figures who are afraid of him and therefore they play political hide and seek.”
The governor’s office has not returned our request for comment for this story.
Responding to charges that he snubbed President Obama, a Beshear spokesperson says the governor made every effort to be at Fort Campbell, but learned of the visit 36 hours ago from news accounts.
“The governor had several long-standing commitments to meet with CEOs of companies interested in creating jobs in Kentucky. He also was committed to the breast cancer awareness efforts at Churchill Downs today,” says Behsear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson. “While we tried to juggle the schedule so the governor could be in both places, we simply couldn’t work it out.”
Richardson says Beshear is very proud of the president, the Navy SEALs and the military for giving the country a victory in the war on terror.