WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden hit Florida this week, as this key battleground state has been and continues to be lavished with attention from the White House and the Obama re-election forces in official and political events.
The Obama team 2012 organizers set up shop early in Florida and were dug in as most attention turned to the run up to the Republican primary last week. The president, first lady and vice president have all been in Florida since December for political and government events.
At this stage, the travel schedules of the president, vice president and Mrs. Obama and other administration figures are set --to a degree-- with an eye towards the November election and battleground 2012 states.
Florida is a key battleground in 2012 as it was in 2008, when Obama beat John McCain 51.03 percent to 48.22 percent. And remember 2000, when former President Bush, with the help of hanging chads, beat Al Gore 48.85 per cent to 48.84 percent
GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney won last Tuesday's Florida primary; his ground game overwhelmed his three rivals. Still, Romney only had five full time staffers in Florida and they have been shifted to other states for now. If Romney gets the nomination--as is likely--his Florida effort will be bolstered because the Republican convention is in Tampa next August.
According to the Obama campaign, as of last week there were 194 State of the Union Watch Parties ranging from Key West all the way to Pensacola; nearly 3,000 trainings, planning sessions, house parties, and phone banks and more than 4,500 one-on-one meetings.
The campaign also opened 11 campaign offices across the state--in key markets--including Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
The Obama team has a major asset in Democratic National Committee Chairman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who represents a south Florida district.
Obama unveiled his proposals to bolster tourism at Disney World outside of Orlando last month. He returns to Florida on Feb. 22 and 23 for official and three fund-raising events in Coral Gables and Orlando.
Orlando is the home of the 2012 NBA All-Stars game; basketball star Vince Carter hosts the Orlando fund-raiser the day before the game.
On Monday, Biden landed in Tallahassee for one official and two campaign events. The government event is aimed at students and their parents who foot the bill for college. Biden and Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter discuss soaring college costs at Florida State University. In December, Biden talked about the collegiate price tag at a high school in Neptune Beach.
Biden has two fund-raisers in Tallahassee on Monday afternoon, a high-end event at the home of attorney Don Hinkle and the other in the Challenger Center, where tickets run from $44 to $1,000.
Mrs. Obama, in two Florida swings in a month, is touching all the major demographic groups: Hispanics, evangelicals, and women.
On Jan. 26, Mrs. Obama was in Tampa for a Latino event connected with her signature "Let's Move" healthy eating drive and in Sarasota and Palm Beach for fund-raisers.
This week, Mrs. Obama is marking the second anniversary of "Let's Move" in a four state swing, touching down in Iowa, Arkansas, Texas, and Florida, where she will be on Friday and Saturday.
In southern Florida, Mrs. Obama is holding a townhall in Homestead and then head to Orlando to have dinner with a family. She travels north of Orlando to a mega-church in Longwood the next day for a big faith based event connected with "Let's Move." She caps the day at Disney World for an event with athletes.
Last Tuesday--Jan. 31--Romney celebrated his victory at the convention center in Tampa. Last Friday, Feb. 3, about a dozen Hispanics in the Obama administration came to Tampa for a White House hosted Hispanic Community Action Summit at The University of Tampa.