CEDAR RAPIDS – Some Cedar Rapids officials are grumbling about Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s decision to hold an airport rally Thursday but skip a tour of large areas of the city still reeling from summer flooding.
Some said McCain is only the latest official to ignore Cedar Rapids’ pain.
“That’s exactly what’s happening,” said Lee Clancey, a Republican former mayor of the city who is coordinating flood recovery efforts. “I don’t know if his advance team is making him aware that there are significant needs here.”
McCain’s schedule calls for him to land at the Eastern Iowa Airport about five miles outside of Cedar Rapids, hold a rally at a private flying service with running mate Sarah Palin, then wing off to his next event.
Now, to be fair, “some Cedar Rapids officials” apparently amounts to Clancey and Rep. Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, who isn’t grumbling as much as he simply wishes McCain had time for a tour. Clancey is referred to as a Republican, which is technically true, but she did endorse Al Gore in 2000. She supported Hillary Clinton in the primary race this year.
Anyway, the question is, should McCain have scheduled at least a short tour?
I understand his time crunch, but the answer is a clear yes. Can you imagine McCain dropping in for a campaign event just outside Houston or New Orleans this week and skipping a damage tour? Wouldn’t happen, so why skip it here?
Sure, McCain probably won’t even be around to vote on disaster relief. But he’s still sending a bad symbolic message. As Clancey argues, it feeds the persistent notion around these parts that the country has moved on and forgotten us, even as folks still struggle to recover.
I’m not saying McCain doesn’t care about flood victims. I’m saying his campaign bungled an opportunity to show he cares.
He still has time to change his schedule. Don’t be surprised if he does.