June 14th, 2010
05:37 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama to face heat on Florida beach

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/14/art.bruceparris.jpg caption ="Pensacola Beach, Florida resident Bruce Parris is unhappy with President Obama's response to the oil disaster, and says he should be 'more aggressive'."]

Pensacola Beach, Florida (CNN) - When President Obama addresses the nation from the Oval Office on Tuesday night, he will be trying to win over former supporters like Bruce Parris, who runs a bar on the sweltering beach here and is hopping mad about the federal response to Gulf oil spill.

Parris, who runs The Dock beachside bar and restaurant, says business has dropped about 40 percent from last year because tourism is cratering even though the water here is still crystal clear. Other than a small group of visitors here as Obama gets ready to sleep in this city tonight, most people are staying away out of fear that the oil is about to show up - and the bar owner says he blames the president for not taking command of the situation sooner.

"I'd rather see a more aggressive president - it should be obvious BP is only concerned about its bottom line, not our beaches or wildlife," said Parris, who voted for Obama over then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., in the 2008 Florida primary but now says he's re-thinking his support.

"I think Hillary might have been the smarter way to go," said Parris, who wonders aloud whether Clinton would have been more take-charge than Obama in the Oval Office. "I was with him all the way. I'm starting to have second thoughts."

Still, Parris seems to distrust BP even more than the White House, saying he buys into speculation on the beach here that the oil company actually does not want to seal off the well because it would prevent them from making future profits.

"It looks like we're trying to control the leak, contain it instead of stopping it, burying it, sealing it off," said Parris. "BP still wants to make a profit off of it."

Don Robarts, who runs a stand along the beach that sells sunglasses, floats, and sunscreen, says he also has suspicions that BP is holding back on completely capping the leak. "I think it's too much of a honey hole for them," said Robarts.

Robarts said he'll be listening closely to the president as well because business at his shop has plummeted 30 percent and he fears it will only get worse if larges gobs of oil wash ashore soon. So far, there have only really been tar balls - small drops of oil mixed with sand - showing up on this beach.

But Priscilla Clark, a local resident, showed up on the beach Monday with a tub full of oil that she found washed up in her backyard just one mile from this beach. Small business owners like Robarts fear that means it's only a matter of time before oil shows up here.

"If they close the beach where people can't get in the water ..." said Robarts, his voice trailing off because he finishes the sentence. He knows a shutdown of the beach will mean the handful of tourists keeping his business afloat will be gone too.

Updated: 7:41 p.m.

Filed under: BP • Energy • Florida • President Obama
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. An 8 year old elephant dung heap does not turn into compost in just 18 months!

    It is getting both tiresome and tedious to listen to all the Gulf grifters whining.

    You pulled the lever for oil exploration for the needed jobs, you were willing to gamble when you built that waterfront home, now that the worst has happened, of which you were warned, you do nothing but whine that it is someone else's fault and someone else's responsibilility to make you "whole" on you real estate and job losses.

    You chose to live there and none of the current consequences were unknown when you decided to live there.

    So, if you are unable to take responsibility for your own actions are do not like the consequences, do what I as a Louisiana native decided to do and MOVE.

    But if you are going to live there, then when these oil rigs blow and foul the beach, stop whining and volunteer.

    June 14, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  2. Brian

    Any idiot can rethink their support at the time the president needs it. It means that you did not think it through in the first place. No body is the perfect president and to wain your support because of a catastrophy he had no control over and has little effect on now (the leak is a mile mile down in the water) is just as stupid.

    Hillary didnt win the nomination in any case so you meant you should have voted for McCain with all of the other "drill baby drill" chanters.

    June 14, 2010 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  3. Janice

    Yes, we should have elected Hillary. She did try to warn us in that 3 am call advertsement about Obama not being ready to take the call.

    This is an oil leak just imagine if it were a terrorist attack on US soil.
    Would Obama be holding concerts and out playing golf?

    Hillary 2012
    Right the Wrong

    June 14, 2010 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  4. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Parris is full of it. The Clintons are nothing more than Big $ corporate elitist Democrats, Blanche Lincoln, Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu style. I fought hard to make sure Obama won the primary to defeat the Clinton machine.

    June 14, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  5. T'SAH from Virginia

    "I'd rather see a more aggressive president -..." SHE SAYS!!!!

    WHY???? I am so sick and tired of people BLAMING President Obama for the SPILL!!!!!

    President Obama has NEVER been AGGRESSIVE and he is still handling it!!!!!

    I guess EVERYONE wants President Obama to go to the ENTIRE coast – with a STRAW – and SUCK up ALL OF THEOIL!!!!!

    The businesses will be COMPENSATED for their lost – they know that!!!

    HILLARY CLINTON would have handled it the same way!!!!! Dang!!!

    June 14, 2010 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  6. T

    Dont throw him under the bus now The problem with some of you, you not giving him a chance....if one thing goes wrong , he is out. MMM make you wonder why you voted for him, something happens you are willing to x's him. That is not right! You not neither.........I voted for him some of the thing he is doing I dont agree with, but over all he is doing a great job....and you know it ! Why the change of heart ?

    June 14, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  7. Andy Wood

    I think they should just take all of the mac computers and shove them right into that pipe...I'm almost certain this will work according to my careful scientific calculations. Macs suck so much they will suck the oil right up.

    June 14, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  8. harold

    If you got second thoughts ... then maybe you should call up ole GW Bush.. he's an oilman.. and George says to any problem out there jsut to .."bring it on"... So bring it on brother.. GW bush and the republicans will clean it all up .....with their bare oil man production hands...

    June 14, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  9. Alan

    Its pretty hard to feel sorry for people that voted in someone that was clearly unqualified for the job.

    Wake up dude! My business is down way more than 40% and I don't see any govt handouts coming. Quit feeling sorry for your self inflicted wound and sign up for food stamps!!

    June 14, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  10. phoenix86

    "I think Hillary might have been the smarter way to go". Too bad it took an oil leak for people to realize this. Most of America realized this during the last primary season.

    June 14, 2010 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  11. An American First

    Mr. Parris, I think you are wrong respectfully speaking. First of all, I don't think people should vote on simply one issue over all others. Secondly, there is no real way to know how Hillary or McCain or anyone else would have handled this situation (and all others obviously during their terms). Most importantly however, if you really believe that "taking an aggressive approach" would have caused BP to fix this oil leak, sir, I honestly think you are mistaken. Yes, another leader could have shown lot more emotion and slap BP around more than Obama administration did or is doing, but this is a technical issue sir. This is not a problem of willingness but a problem of limited technology. We don't have technology to stop this. That's the bottom line. This is not Pres. Obama's fault, but it is quite the contrary. I am also an Obama voter, and in my opinion, he is being consistant to what he was like two years back when he was running for the presidency. The only thing he did wrong in my opinion is to lose his calm (the kicking some a-double-s incident). Hillary may have said harsher words against BP, but you can't honestly believe that somehow that would have forced BP to fix the oil leak. They have nothing to gain and more and more to lose in not fixing this leak sir...

    June 14, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  12. Beverly - NYC

    The President is not in charge of Florida Tourism Mr. Parris and others, nag your Governor and state representatives to get the word out. Even if there wasn't an oil spill, you can't force people to go on vacation.

    Seriously these folks will believe anything, they actually think BP doesn't want this leak to stop, why because of all the positive press & well wishes they're getting? Or maybe they like the idea of paying off every toothless redneck in the pan handle ? Please people use your heads for more than keeping your ears apart.

    For the 99th time this is real life ,not a movie, there isn't an hour and a half Rambo solution to all problems. The federal government does not have the expertise for deep oil exploration thus they have to depend on the expert and companies who do it. Most of whom only plan for the best not the worse. The only thing the Fed can do is have stronger regulations and trained inspectors so this doesn't happen again. Then get ready for the backlash,oil companies will move elsewhere, China or India where if a few billion gallons of oil spills no one whines about it and labor is cheaper. Then you'll have something new to whine about.

    June 14, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  13. Donkey Party

    Ahh, the return of the PUMAs. Short of the President donning an Aquaman suit and diving to the bottom of the sea and sticking his finger in the hole, what is it these arm-chair politicians want?

    June 14, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  14. Jo Jo

    What could Hillary have done differently? Absolutely nothing. Does he really think BP wants to loose billions of dollars worth of oil? Believe you me, if BP could have stop the spillage they would have so to blame the president for not literally leaping into the Gulf and plugging the whole singlehandedly, is down right ludicrous. If scientist and engineers are clueless, what do you think the president should have done? Let's face it, no one, including the big oil companies and government has any idea how to stop the flow of oil except to use the same old outdated method of drilling more holes. This was a wake up call for government and the oil industry. This catastrophe shows just how ill-prepared anyone is in handling major oil spills due to offshore drilling. So until oil companies spend money on developing a twenty-first century fool-proof plan to handle such incidents, all offshore drilling needs to be suspended indefinitely. And this is exactly what the president has done.

    June 14, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  15. they call me "tater salad"

    Yeah!! The president should have thought about it a little more before he called BP and forced them to cause this oil leak in the first place...........Gotta love those know-nothing, halfwit, Obama haters.......Blaming him for EVERYTHING is a lot easier and requires a lot less effort than reading and research does apparently!.......GOP= Giant Orifice Pimples!!!!

    June 14, 2010 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  16. thor

    The president doesn't care how much damage is done by the Gulf disaster as long as he can blame it on BP.It helps his agenda of promoting green energy.It also takes people's minds off the sorry state of the economy . Kill two oil stained pelicans with one stone.

    June 14, 2010 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  17. Blackbarbie

    Boy the Pres. sure did mess up when he caused that oil to spill, I guess he better get down there and plug it up with his finger, ridiculous!, this business was bad before the oil spill, but I guess that doesn't matter it's still the presidents fault, if BP can't stop the spill, I seriously dont think the pres can.

    June 14, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  18. Pragmatic

    Bottom line: BP put profit before safety & no one knows how to stop the leak. The best the government can do is containment and make sure BP pays for the damage + clean-up.

    In the meantime, Rand Paul calls the President "too tough" on BP and "Un-American" ... the Gulf governors want to continue drilling ...

    If the President is too calm – the crowd says "show anger" – not that yelling solves anything .... and when he is angry, the crowd says "how un-presidential: ... funny – don't hear anyone saying McCain/Palin would be doing a better job ....

    June 14, 2010 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  19. Marie

    Hillary could take charge but how would she stop the leak?Nothing has never happened so catastrophic as to our waters and wild life with this oil spill .God help the 11 poor souls who lost their lives and many hard working americans that have almost if not already bankrupt their businesses . I think the smartest minds are at lost with stopping the oil from gushing.BP allowed a time bomb to tick and let this happened, just ask Cheney he knows all the short cuts BP took while they lined his pockets with millions.Why do you think you haven't seen Cheney on tv lately.Now the finger should be pointing at him for putting this country at risk

    June 14, 2010 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |