It’s Go Time for Republican Presidential Candidates in Florida

2008 Republican Vice President Candidate Sarah Palin During an Oct. 2008 Rally in Tampa, Fla.
2008 Republican Vice President Candidate Sarah Palin During an Oct. 2008 Rally in Tampa, Fla.

Newt, Mitt and Rick are pretty lucky – they’ll be spending the next week campaigning in sunny Florida and I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of the three Republican presidential candidate hopefuls during their whirlwind trips. Just as in 2008 (dang, how can it be four years already???) I’ll probably be trekking across the Sunshine State in the quest for the perfect political photographs, since I’m in the Yahoo! and Getty Images pool of photographers.

Hillary Clinton Stumps for Obama in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 2008
Hillary Clinton Stumps for Obama in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 2008

Yeah, I know, this is a travel blog however whether we like it or not, travel is extremely political, which is why President Obama was at Disney World last week touting a new tourism initiative to boost U.S. jobs. This initiative includes creating an interagency task force which will develop a National Travel & Tourism Strategy, expanding Global Entry, shortening visa wait times, promoting U.S. national parks and working to expand the visa waiver program.

It’s important elected officials understand the importance of tourism on the economy on a local, state and national level.

According to the U.S. Travel Association, travel and tourism is one of America’s largest industries (2010 data)

  • Generated $1.8 trillion in economic output, with $759 billion spent directly by domestic and international travelers that spurred an additional $1 trillion in other industries.
  • Directly generated $118 billion in tax revenue for local, state and federal governments.
  • Each U.S. household would pay $1,000 more in taxes without the tax revenue generated by the travel and tourism industry.
  • Direct spending by resident and international travelers in the U.S. averaged $2 billion a day, $86.6 million an hour, $1.4 million a minute and $24,000 a second.

What about the importance of tourism in Florida? According to VISIT FLORIDA (2010)

  • Florida welcomed 82.3 million visitors
  • Visitors spent more than $62.7 billion
  • Generated 22 percent of the Florida’s sales tax revenue
  • Tourism employed nearly 1 million Floridians
Political Buttons, Oct. 2008, Ft. Myers, Fla.
Political Buttons, Oct. 2008, Ft. Myers, Fla.

This week, looks like my best bets at seeing the candidates are in Sarasota:

Tuesday, Jan. 24: Newt Gingrich (I’m not playing hooky! Doctor has released me to return to work Wednesday but I have an industry meeting and reception there so Newt fits right in)
Sunday, Jan. 29: Rick Santorum

Although I have my tickets for each, I’m afraid I’ll be turned away like I was for the Palin rally in Fort Myers. Ugh!

With my work schedule, not sure how I’m going to track down Mitt Romney. I’m going to keep an eye on Ft. Myer Outdoor Examiner Jeff Briscoe’s page because he has a good pulse on political appearances. My friend and fellow Space Tweep Jenn P. also followed the candidates in 2008. Read her great post about getting her kids interested in the political process.

Looks like I’ll have to write another post on what to bring to a political rally. I learned quite a bit from my adventures in 2008.

In case you missed Obama’s January 19 remarks, check out the video over on C-SPAN.

Disclosure: I’m a former VISIT FLORIDA employee, have been a Partner of the organization in some capacity since 1998 and currently sit on one of the organization’s committees, so yeah, I believe in the organization and what they do to promote tourism and strengthen Florida’s economy.



Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park, Calif.
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