It may be little more than a blip on Washington’s radar screen, but President Obama’s decision to be a no-show at an upcoming ceremony to mark the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address has touched off a firestorm in Pennsylvania.
Local newspapers Thursday excoriated the president, a noted admirer of the 16th president, for skipping the historic occasion.
A journalist at Harrisburg’s Patriot News said Mr. Obama doesn’t have “the stones” to attend; York’s Daily Record newspaper called the decision “unacceptable” and said “Mr. Obama’s retreat from Gettysburg will linger long and bitter.”
The Gettysburg Times reported that local officials in and around the town have spent months preparing — in vain — for a potential visit from Mr. Obama, who twice carried Pennsylvania in the presidential election (by 11 percentage points in 2008 and five in 2012).
Instead, the White House will send Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to the Nov. 19 event, which will be held at the Soldiers' National Cemetery.
When asked why the president turned down the invite, press secretary Jay Carney lumped Obama in with the rest of the public: “I think all Americans will share and marvel in the remembrance of that important date in our history,” Carney said.