This just in: It’s okay for national Democrats to tour the site of the Waldo Canyon wildfire, but not Republicans.
ProgressNow Colorado executive director Joanne Schwartz was outraged Sunday upon learning that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney may visit the fire wreckage in Colorado Springs Wednesday as part of a three-day swing through Colorado.
This would be unacceptable, Schwartz explained, because “[w]ith thousands of our neighbors just beginning to recover and hundreds of homes around Colorado lying in ashes, the last thing we need is Romney flying in to score political points off our recent tragedy.”
Nowhere in her missive was it mentioned that President Obama spent 2-1/2 hours at the Waldo Canyon site June 29, or that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar plans to drop in today to “survey ongoing wildfire response and efforts, and thank firefighters, first responders and volunteers,” according to an Interior Department press release.
In other words, neither side is above scoring political points with a feel-good photo-op in a crucial battleground state, especially with the fire now 98% contained.
What really irks Schwartz about the Romney visit is that the former Massachusetts governor criticized Obama June 8 for using stimulus funds to hire more government workers, including teachers, police and firefighters. That Romney would now want to lend his support to the Waldo Canyon firefighters represents “astonishing hypocrisy,” she said.
While Romney may now wish he hadn’t been quite so specific, it should be noted that the candidate has never actually laid off a firefighter or otherwise done anything to hamper this year’s Colorado fire effort.
Contrast that with the Obama administration, which reportedly cancelled in August 2011 a contract for seven air tankers, and then did nothing for almost a year to bolster a firefighting fleet that had shrunk to just 11 planes, down from 40 tankers a decade ago.
The result was that president was left scrambling to sign an order speeding up contracts for more air tankers June 13–after the state’s congressional delegation urged his administration to provide more air support for the High Park fire near Fort Collins.
Romney is scheduled to appear at a private fundraiser Monday in Aspen and then hold a town- hall meeting Tuesday at Central High School in Grand Junction. Meanwhile, ProgressNow is encouraging its members to make things uncomfortable for the candidate by turning up at the event.