GOP strategist Robert Coon and Clinton School Dean Skip Rutherford said they hope President Obama’s visit to Arkansas in the wake of devastating and delay tornadoes doesn’t inspire partisan back-biting.
The trip will be Obama’s first physical presence in the state since he became President in 2008. He traveled to Arkansas in 2006 in the only other trip he’s made to Arkansas.
“We live in a partisan environment, its very hyper-political,” said Coon, a partner at Impact Management Group. “I think there are certainly some times when politics have to be put aside. I think the tragedy and damage that we’ve seen with the tornadoes is one of those times. I would hope that the temptation to be snarky and to jump into the partisanship would be resisted by folks.”
“Presidents come to support the victims, to support the families, to support the state. This rises above partisanship,” said Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re Republican or Democrat. When it comes to helping people who are struggling are hurting, it’s the right thing to do.”
Talk Business & Politics host Roby Brock said despite calls for a political truce, the event would still likely find its way into the U.S. Senate campaign, which pits incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor against Republican challenger Cong. Tom Cotton.
Cotton has attempted to tie Pryor to Obama’s voting record and unpopular health care law, Obamacare. Pryor has frequently pointed to Cotton’s 2013 vote against special funds for FEMA to cover damage claims for Hurricane Sandy victims. Supporters of both campaigns are likely to use the President’s visit for political framing eventually.
Obama remains unpopular in Arkansas, according to public polling, but could his high-profile visit to the state blunt the stigma of attachment to him under the circumstances of his trip?
“I do think it will turn into something of a political issue. And I do think it will help Mark Pryor to be seen with the President in a time of need. I see that as something that is very possible, in terms of voter appreciation,” Brock said.
In the video below, you can watch the full conversation plus the discussion of results from the latest Talk Business-Hendrix College Poll of Republican primary match-ups for Attorney General and Congressional Districts 2 and 4.