(CNN) – When Air Force One touches down in Fort Myers, Florida, Tuesday morning, the weather will be different than northern Indiana. Little else will be.
President Barack Obama won't see anyone in earmuffs at the airport or remnants of dirty snow along the motorcade route to the town hall meeting. But like their rust belt compatriots in Elkhart, residents in Lee County are among the hardest hit by the economic downturn.
Fort Myers restaurant manager Debbie Kendall sees it every day.
"People are very nervous," she said of her customers. "Maybe even scared. Everything is so up in the air."
The cold, hard numbers: Unemployment in the Gulf Coast community was 2.3 percent at this time in 2006. By last winter, it was 6 percent. The latest numbers put the jobless rate in Lee County at 10 percent. That translates to 28,396 people looking for work.
The numbers were different Monday morning, but very telling. Hundreds lined up outside the Harborside Event Center waiting for tickets to the president's town hall meeting. They began waiting in line over the weekend. Many camped out overnight, with tents and sleeping bags springing up near the front door.
When she arrived for early Monday, a convention center worker said it was "line upon line upon line." It took less than an hour for all the tickets to be given away.
The huge turnout won't completely be a sign of support for the new president. This is a county where candidate Obama wasn't the rock star during the campaign. He didn't visit Fort Myers, and he lost Lee County by ten points to John McCain. Then-vice presidential candidate Joe Biden held an economic roundtable there in September, in the same convention center where Obama speaks Tuesday.
The White House, trying to take the debate over the stimulus out of divided Washington with these campaign-style events, paints the Florida gathering as bipartisan. They announced the state's popular Republican governor, Charlie Crist, will attend the town rally and introduce the president. Obama said in a statement, "we agree that we can't allow politics to get in the way of urgent relief for the millions of families and small businesses that need it."
But not all politics will be overshadowed. The event is in the district of Republican Congressman Connie Mack, who voted against the stimulus bill in the House and will not be there Tuesday. His spokesman said he will be in Washington for votes. She said that Mack was "informed about the town hall but not invited."
Mack wrote an open letter to President Obama, published Monday in two newspapers in the district. In it, Mack wrote, "History has proven that we can't spend our way to prosperity. Our children and grandchildren deserve better than to inherit a future of more government, more spending and more debt. ...
He added, "Mr. President, listen to the people. Take their message to heart. And let us go down the road to economic prosperity through less taxing, less spending, less government and more freedom."
At Clancey's, a busy restaurant along McGregor Boulevard, Kendall said politics and the economy are daily topics.
"Historically this is a very Republican area. But people are hoping some of the ideas (Obama) is bringing in can turn things around," she told CNN by phone. Some voters who in November didn't vote for Obama, she said, "are giving him the benefit of the doubt."