President Obama may escape the Washington scene today when he travels to the University at Buffalo to make his case for affordable college education, but the national political cauldron seems to follow him anyway.
The chairman of the Republican National Committee and his New York and Pennsylvania counterparts blistered Obama on the eve of the presidential bus tour through the two states, labeling him a “lame duck” who excels at “talking” but who has accomplished little.
“He’s doing what he does best – talk,” Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus said in a conference call with reporters. “It’s just the same old policies that either have not been implemented or will not work now or in the future. There’s nothing else he can do.”
New York GOP Chairman Edward F. Cox and Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason also piled on the president and any other Democrat in sight to underscore what they called a weak economy offering little opportunity to the students Obama will address in Buffalo, Syracuse, Binghamton and Scranton, Pa.
Cox pointed to the probability that the New York students who hear the president will flee the state to find opportunity in business-friendly states like Texas and North Carolina that have Republican governors and legislatures.
“New York remains the highest taxed, the most regulated and least business-friendly state in the nation, with the highest debt per capita and the highest out-migration of taxpaying citizens,” Cox said.
“And the president’s heavy-handed, ‘government knows best’ programs are leading the rest of the nation down New York’s path. Well, where does that path lead?”
Gleason, meanwhile, questioned what the president can accomplish by the trip to the blue-collar cities on his schedule. “Traveling around like a rock star surrounded by doting supporters will not help cities like Scranton,” he said.
Priebus added that the president remains “obsessed” with trips dominated by “pageantry, staging and bunting.”
“I’ve got to believe that staging is high on the priority list,” he said.
As he has on many previous occasions, Cox included criticism of Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for failing over several years to approve “fracking” for natural gas recovery. The New York chairman said he is not surprised Cuomo will avoid Binghamton on the tour, since fracking has spawned a $10 billion industry and 30,000 jobs just across the border in Pennsylvania, accusing him and Obama of lacking the “political guts” to encourage the practice and the jobs it creates.
“It is indicative of Obama’s increasingly lame-duck status and Cuomo’s political cowardice that the governor does not seem willing to join his president in facing the rabid mob of anti-frackers who have promised to protest in Binghamton,” he said.
Cox also said that while the president will emphasize education policy during his two days in New York and Pennsylvania, politics actually dominates the agenda. Obama is heading into solid Democratic turf in Erie County and Syracuse today as well as Binghamton and Scranton on Friday – all areas he solidly claimed in last year’s presidential election.
Cox pointed to the three congressional districts around Syracuse that the Democrats are hoping to reclaim. “It will not happen in 2014,” the state chairman said.
The White House on Wednesday dismissed any notion that the president was minimizing other problems during his New York-Pennsylvania tour.
“I don’t think that anybody has reason to question the seriousness with which the president confronts these challenges we’re facing,” said Josh Earnest, principal deputy press secretary at the White House.
“We’re going to spend some time on a bus in New York and Pennsylvania at the end of this week talking about another priority of the president, which is reducing the cost of a college education. But that doesn’t mean that there’s any less attention being paid to the ongoing violence in Egypt or reports of chemical weapons use in Syria or any of the range of serious things that are happening all across the globe.”
News Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski contributed to this report. email: firstname.lastname@example.org