By Justin Sink
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) said Wednesday he was “moved” by President Obama’s visit to tornado-ravaged communities in Arkansas, and that there's “no time” for contemplating the political ramifications of appearing alongside the president in the midst of his reelection fight.
"That's what I told the president; I said, 'It's time for us to put away the red jersey, put away the blue jersey and put on the red white and blue. You know, lets help these people rebuild. I think he was moved by that. I know I've been moved by that," Pryor told Arkansas ABC News affiliate KATV.
"When you go through something like this, you see how petty all those politics are in Washington, and you see how small that hyperpartisanship is there and, you know, people around the country are sick of that, and I'm sick of that," Pryor said. "You come to something like this, and there's just no time for that."
The Arkansas lawmaker is among the most vulnerable senators up for reelection this year, with a Public Policy Polling survey released late last month giving him a one-point lead over Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). Pryor has actively attempted to distance himself from the president, who remains deeply unpopular in the state.
On Wednesday, Pryor insisted the event was “not about politics.”
“It is about the basic service government can provide. This is not just neighbor helping neighbor, it's the country helping our state in this time. And we don't ask very often," Pryor said, "This is why, when the other bills come up about funding disasters, I always vote to do that, even though sometimes it's hard to find the money. Sometimes, there's a sacrifice to do it, but you got to do it because I know sometime, it will come back around, and it will be our turn to ask."
At a speech following his survey of the tornado damage, Obama told residents affected by the storm damage that “your country’s going to be here for you.”
“I’m here to make sure that they know and that everybody who’s been affected knows that, you know, the federal government’s going to be right here until we get, you know, these communities rebuilt, because when something like this happens to a wonderful community like this one, it happens to all of us and, you know, we’ve got to be there for them,” the president said.
Obama hailed Arkansas residents as “tough” and said the actions of first responders were a “testament to the strength of this community, the strength of Arkansas and the strength of America.”