By Keith Laing
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica's (R-Fla.) primary opponent is sharply criticizing him for attending President Obama's signing of a new $105-billion transportation bill on Friday.
Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Fla.), who is running against Mica in an August primary after the two lawmakers were drawn into the same Florida congressional district, said on Friday that the highway bill that was approved with Mica's help was too expensive.
She also criticized Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for recent comments he made about road and transit spending in China.
"Twenty-year incumbent John Mica, who calls himself President Obama’s biggest cheerleader, will join his 'soul mate' Barbara Boxer for President Obama's signing of their budget-busting transportation bill," Adams campaign said in an email to supporters.
The comments from LaHood about the Chinese government that have drawn conservative ire were made at the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado.
"The Chinese are more successful [in building infrastructure] because in their country, only three people make the decision. In our country, 3,000 people do, 3 million," LaHood said in an interview with Foreign Policy Magazine's blog The Cable.
"In a country where only three people make the decision, they can decide where to put their rail line, get the money and do it. We don't do it that way in America," LaHood continued, though he quickly added that "We have the best system of government anywhere on the planet.
"It is the best," the magazine reported LaHood said of the American political system. "Because the people have their say."
The latter part of LaHood's statement was left out of the Adams campaign email on the transportation bill signing Friday.
"Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood’s comments praising the oppressive Chinese government's statist policies are an embarrassment to the Obama administration and the United States of America,” Adams said in the email. “America has remained the greatest country in the world because it was founded upon the roots of democracy. Unlike the oppressive Chinese government that the secretary envies, Americans have a voice in Congress and a choice in their leaders."
"We cannot afford the Mica-Boxer-Obama budget-busting transportation bill because our nation is heading toward the fiscal cliff, and we have to rein in our spending," she added about the transportation bill. "I am committed to standing strong for fiscal responsibility, and getting our country back on a path to economic prosperity.”
Mica has also sharply criticized President Obama for his role in the transportation talks, but he has called the bill that Obama is scheduled to sign on Friday "the most important transportation reform bill since Eisenhower."
After attending Obama signing of the bill, Mica released a scathing statement criticizing the president for being "AWOL" on transportation issues.
“I’m disappointed that the only part the president and his administration played in passage of this important transportation legislation has been today’s elaborate bill signing ceremony," Mica said in a statement released minutes after he was standing next to Obama at the White House.
"Today’s White House showcase ceremony is small consolation to thousands of projects and workers that were then left behind, because reforms that would have truly helped make projects ‘shovel-ready’ were not put in place until today’s enactment of those necessary reforms," he said.
Mica and Adams will face off in Florida's primary election Aug. 14.
-This story was updated with new information at 6:29 p.m.