Joining prominent civil rights leaders and other Democratic lawmakers, Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said Governor Steve Beshear should have adjusted his schedule to be at Fort Campbell and greet President Barack Obama during his a recent visit to the military base.
Last Friday, Mr. Obama made his first visit as president to the commonwealth, where he met privately with members of the Navy SEAL team that killed 9/11 terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. The governor’s office said the White House notice came too late and Beshear had to fulfill his Oak’s Day obligations.
Stumbo said he didn’t buy that explanation and believes the governor could have showed up despite Republican attempts to link Beshear to Mr. Obama during an election year.
From the Republic:
“That wasn’t a political event,” Stumbo said. “That was an event to honor the bravery of those men, and I believe he should have gone down there probably and been with the president. He could have helicoptered back up here for the Oaks presentation if he wanted to do that.”
Beshear said he wasn’t trying to distance himself from Obama. He expressed pride in Obama and the military assault team that executed the dangerous raid on bin Laden’s compound and killed the al-Qaida leader in Pakistan.
“It was a great victory in the war over terrorism,” the governor said. “If I could have been there, I would have. We didn’t have enough time to really change any plans that we already had set in concrete here.”
Last week, Louisville NAACP President Raoul Cunningham told WFPL News that Beshear’s game of “hide and seek” with the president could cost Beshear at the polls this November, particularly among African-American voters. Stumbo, however, doesn’t think the governor’s absence will have a lingering impact on the general election.