Obama promises Florida residents job creation, mortgage help

FORT MYERS — Speaking to Florida residents who have seen their area's unemployment rate triple in recent years, President Barack Obama on Tuesday promised the No. 1 priority of his economic stimulus plan is job creation.

The president was greeted just after noon with an energetic "Yes we can!" chant when he took the stage at the Harborside Event Center in Fort Myers, joined by Gov. Charlie Crist.

"It's good to be in Florida, especially in February," Obama said, then talked about the importance of bipartisan support of his $825 billion economic stimulus plan.

"When the town is burning, you don't check party labels. Everybody needs to grab a hose," Obama said.

Crist, a Republican, introduced the president by telling him Florida has worked hard to balance its budget, but "it's getting harder every day."

"To be candid, it's getting harder every day. We know it's important that we pass the stimulus package," Crist said. "It is important that we do so to help education, to help infrastructure and to help healthcare for those who need it the most.

"This issue is about helping our country, helping America and reigniting our economy," Crist said.

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