I checked in with Sen. Jason Rapert on Twitter this morning to see if he’d join President Obama on his visit today to tornado damage in Arkansas, a long swath that includes part of Rapert’s district. Sounds like he has other plans. His response to my question if he’d join the president:
I am taking clothes to some of my constituent families in Black Oak Ranch that are homeless and without insurance.
When I asked if this meant “no,” he didn’t immediately respond.
UPDATE: he elaborated:
No. I plan to attend funeral for the 2 Smith children [The service for Cameron and Tyler Smith is at noon today in North Little Rock] and will do so – they lived in my district. Other obligations as well.
He also commented:
I am grateful for @BarackObama reaching out to Faulkner County in kindness. Many have died, many are homeless & traumatized.
policy differences are not important when tragedy strikes our state and nation. We all hurt as Arkansans and Americans.
Rapert joined Bill Clinton, Mike Beebe and Obama’s Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, Sunday in the tornado zone and generously thanked them for their attention. Too bad we won’t get a picture of the president with Rapert, who, to put it mildly, is no fan of the president on most other issues. Rapert has, however, noted that FEMA assistance grants have already been approved for sp,e tornado-struck residents of his district.
Before the updated comments, I sensed a slightly different tone to Rapert’s thinking, when Rapert re-Tweeted this morning a comment made by someone else on Twitter:
interesting some rip Rapert for using this as a political stunt but not Obama whos never been here.
It is Obama’s first visit as president. He made a campaign appearance for Mike Beebe in 2006.
The president is to arrive at LRAFB at 12:35 p.m., make several stops and have a public appearance at 2:50 p.m. then depart about 3:30.
Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin of the 2nd District is expected to be with the president today, as well as U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor. Neither of them has called for the president’s impeachment, as Rapert has. Rapert has cited no constitutional grounds for the president’s removal other than that he is fed up with him and some policies he disagrees with, such as support for abortion, which remains legal in the U.S.
Rapert’s decision to take the high road has not been shared by many Republicans on social media. They are still choosing to see the presidential visit and empathy for storm victims as a political stunt. Happily, the Faulkner County judge, Tim Griffin and even Jason Rapert see the larger picture.