President Barack Obama is going to Disney World to tout tourism on Thursday, but U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson won’t be there — and Republicans say the Florida Democrat is distancing himself from the unpopular president.
Nelson's office told reporters that a scheduling conflict prevents him from appearing with Obama at the Lake Buena Vista tourist mecca the Mouse built, according to Sunshine State News
The two-term senator is "not bailing" on a meeting with Obama, Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin said.
"Had Sarasota-Manatee events set long ago. Got Obama invite this a.m.," McLaughlin said in a brief email. McLaughlin did not respond to Sunshine State News' request for additional comment.
The scheduling conflict is just a fairy tale to give Nelson an alibi to steer clear of the most magical place on earth, allege two of Nelson's Republican foes.
Craig Miller, who is seeking the GOP nod to challenge Nelson for re-election, even offered to meet the president, telling Sunshine State News: "Since I have been talking to thousands of Floridians for the past seven months and we see very little of Bill Nelson meeting with constituents, I would be delighted to let him know what the folks on Main Street are saying and feeling.
"As a lifetime member of the hospitality industry and past tourism commissioner, maybe I can help him understand why our nation's bureaucracy and overbearing regulations kill incentives for job creation," Miller said.
Similarly, Republican Senate hopeful Adam Hasner said Nelson is afraid to be seen with the president. "Now that we are in an election year, Bill Nelson is running from his support of the stimulus, Obamacare and cap-and-trade, and running from President Obama himself,” Hasner told Sunshine State News.
Presidential aides say Obama will unveil his new policy for increasing U.S. tourism, an issue that is close to the hearts of Floridians.
Specifically, many in Central Florida would like visa reform, which would make international travel to Disney World for visitors from nations such as Brazil, India, and China, easier.
Blain Rethmeier, senior vice president of public affairs at the U.S. Travel Association, told the Orlando Sentinel: “We understand that he [Obama] is going to trumpet the value of travel generally and improve facilitation for international travel; especially from China and Brazil.”
Disney, in anticipation of Obama’s visit with the Mouse, has taken extra precautions to ensure his trip is safe.
Extra “magic” hours for guests staying in Disney hotels have been canceled, the start of the daily parade has been moved, and employees will not be allowed to use entrance passes for the day. Disney’s Contemporary Resort will be used as a staging area for news media, and parking will be restricted.
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