Valley experts react to interview with President Obama

Friday, June 15, 2012

Many of you have given us a great deal of feedback this week regarding Action News anchor Warren Armstrong's interview with President Obama.

The president addressed several issues that are important to the Valley.

Whether the president is re-thinking a trip to the Central Valley is unclear, but his comments got the attention of political and agricultural experts here at home.

President Obama has come to California more than fifty times. According to the California News Service, 35 of those trips have been for fundraisers. But he's never visited Central California.

That's why Warren Armstrong's first question to the president regarded that issue.

Warren Armstrong asked, "There is a growing perception in Central California that you and your administration don't understand or are not aware of the extreme problems that we have there in Central California. You've made so many trips to California raising millions but you have yet to step foot in the Central Valley. Folks back there want to know why you haven't come personally to come see these extreme problems, some of the worst in the country. We want you to come, sir.

President Obama says "Look, obviously I'm very aware of what's happening in Central California. Every time I go out there I have discussions with folks like Gov. Jerry Brown.. I am very mindful of the challenges that are faced in Central California and we're going to keep on working steadily to bring about the improvements that need to be made."

Action News Political Analyst Tony Capozzi and Nisei Farmers League President Manuel Cunha watched Action News' White House interview with President Obama.

Capozzi says a Democratic president has no need to come to California, a state he should win in November.

"He's not coming to Central California. He will visit California, San Francisco, Los Angeles, the coastal areas to collect money and go back east and spend it there," Capozzi said.

President Obama carried Fresno and Merced Counties in 2008, but Capozzi believes Mitt Romney will win the Valley in November.

"I just don't see any reason for him to come here. He may lose the Valley, and he'll say 'so what, I don't really need it. I'm going to get the electoral votes because whoever gets the most votes in California gets all of the electoral votes'. That's all he's going to be looking at," Capozzi said.

Capozzi says the president offered no real specifics and answered my questions in generalities, including one about water and jobs.

Warren Armstrong asked, "many San Joaquin Valley growers and ag industry leaders believe that best way you can stimulate jobs in Central California is to ease federal environmental restrictions and increase water deliveries. Let the farmers have the water they need. What can your administration do, sir, to please give those farmers the water they want and to provide safe clean drinking water to communities in the Valley that don't have it?"

President Obama replied, "there's still more progress that can be made in capturing the water that we have and using it efficiently and in some cases recycling it, and if we reduce waste there's more water to go around for everybody."

Farm advocate Manuel Cunha says he's disappointed the president stressed "conservation" instead of the value of Valley agriculture and how more water can help farmers grow jobs.

"I would have thought he would have said 'yes, we can create a lot of jobs if we give you water , and to do that I've got to deal with regulations. I've gotta deal with the endangered species act and I'm willing to do that'. If I would have heard that from the President of the United States, just that statement, that would have told me this man gets it," Cunha said.

The president told Action News he believes his strategy will make a big difference in the Central Valley.

This week the Obama Administration announced a commitment to invest $2 billion dollars to help small businesses in rural America and put people back to work.

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washington d.c., president barack obama, politics, warren armstrong
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