Conservatives Object to Michelle Obama Headlining Voter Registration Event

Frederick Cosby,
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 4:30pm
Conservatives and Republicans in Miami voiced objections to First Lady Michelle Obama headlining a voter registration event Tuesday at a Miami-Dade County public school building. (Photo: AP)

They’re at it again.

Conservatives and Republicans who seem determined to keep President Barack Obama and members of his administration away from school buildings, as if they were former Penn State defensive coach Jerry Sandusky, voiced objections to First Lady Michelle Obama headlining a voter registration event Tuesday at a Miami-Dade County public school building.

Miami-Dade board member Renier Diaz de la Portillia called for the event at Barbara Goleman Senior High School in Miami Lakes to be cancelled while another board member, Carlos Curbelo, asked the school board’s lawyer to double check to determine whether the event was legal.

The complaints are reminiscent of Republican and conservative hand-wringing in 2009 over President Barack Obama delivering a back-to-school video address to students. Critics cried that Obama was trying to politically indoctrinate young minds.

Some schools refused to broadcast the live remarks in which Obama urged students to stay in school. Some parents kept their children out of school that day rather than subject them to a speech by the President of the United States.

With Florida in play as a key swing state in this November’s presidential election, Diaz de la Portillia issued a scathing statement about the registration event and the first lady’s appearance there.

“The use of public schools whose only focus should be to education our children for political gain is downright wrong,” he wrote. “Don’t these liberals have boundaries? Our schools are places for learning, not places for politicking.”

Diaz de la Portilla is running as a Republican for a Florida State House seat and Curbelo has worked as a Republican strategist. He told The Miami Herald that “There’s a difference between official visits to schools by elected leaders and events that are for the sole purpose of advancing the interests of a political campaign."

In a letter to the school board’s attorney, Curbelo wrote: “Allowing the first lady of the United States to use one of our schools explicitly to benefit the president’s re-election campaign is inappropriate and sends the wrong message to our students, employees, and to taxpayers – even if the president’s campaign is willing to pay for all costs resulting from the event.”

The event won’t likely affect Goleman Senior High students: school is out for the summer.

The first lady’s event was held on the same day when presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney held a town hall meeting inside a school building in Colorado, The Herald reported.

It isn’t unusual for political campaigns – from town council to presidential – to hold events in school buildings, which often have large gymnasiums, lunch rooms, or auditoriums that can hold crowds. School buildings are also the focal points of many small towns across America.

The Miami-Dade school board policy states that all groups – including political, religious and nonprofit organizations – can apply to rent facilities from the school system. Renting Goleman Senior High will cost the Obama campaign about $2,350.

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