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Hurricane McCain

Hurricane McCain arrived in Florida today. To coincide with Sen. John McCain’s two-day visit, the Florida Democratic Party unveiled a new Website that features a minute-and-a-half-long TV spot it plans to begin airing soon. The ad is critical of McCain’s opposition to a national catastrophe fund that would lower the cost of disaster insurance in hurricane- and earthquake-prone areas.

Naturally, both the McCain and Obama campaigns used the issue as a vehicle for unloading talking points on each other today.

"Once again John McCain has made clear that he is much more interested in standing with George Bush than getting the facts right or doing what’s right. But what John McCain doesn’t understand is that by choosing to stand with George Bush’s failed policies instead of standing with the families of Florida he can’t deliver the change the country needs and deserves,” Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan said in a statement.

The McCain camp responded:

“It’s disappointing that for the second day in a row for Sen. Obama has chosen to use natural catastrophes to launch political attacks — that’s not ‘change we can believe in.’ John McCain is opposed to a government-run National Catastrophe Fund, not because he doesn’t have serious concerns about the cost of insurance in Florida, but because it ignores the need for private insurance reforms to broaden markets and protections against the cherry-picking of individual states. John McCain earned Gov. Crist’s endorsement well after Sen. McCain had articulated his position on this issue, because John McCain has the strength, experience and judgment to lead."

With hurricane season fast approaching, Florida Democrats are planning to make the issue central to the presidential campaign in the state. Former Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani, whose unsuccessful bid for the nomination focused on winning the Florida primary — which he didn’t — made his support for a national catastrophe fund the centerpiece of his strategy. Florida’s Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate, has lobbied Congress for the creation of a national catastrophe fund. If 2008 turns out to be a bad year for hurricanes, the issue could come back to haunt McCain.

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