By Bill Thompson
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 – Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp kept it short and sweet during a visit to Ocala on Wednesday, telling a group of fellow Republicans that the path to economic recovery runs through high-tech innovation - particularly space exploration - and in thwarting President Barack Obama’s economic agenda.
Kottkamp, speaking for less than 10 minutes to about 300 local political and business leaders gathered at the Holiday Inn on State Road 200 for the monthly Republican Business Council luncheon, said the nation can rebound if the government would recommit itself to limited government and free market capitalism - principles espoused by the Founding Fathers and shared by his hosts and their political party.
“It seems he wants to take over the country,” Kottkamp said of Obama. “We must never, never, never, never, never let him do that.”
Noting the recent victory in Massachusetts by Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown, Kottkamp added, “Middle America has woken up and is saying ‘We’re not going to let you take our country.’ ”
Kottkamp said America’s was the first political system rooted in the idea that “government is the servant,” and that it was critical to “get government out of the way” so that citizens could pursue those freedoms spelled out in the Bill of Rights and “granted to us by God.”
That activity, he observed, stood in “stark contrast to what they are trying to do in Washington.”
Kottkamp seeks to become the GOP nominee for state attorney general in the fall elections.
But he did not discuss his campaign or issues related to it during his brief remarks.
Instead, he argued that Florida’s — and by extension Ocala’s — economy could prosper through investment in high-tech research and companies, including those in the aerospace, information technology and biotech fields.
That was keeping with the theme of the luncheon, as well as Kottkamp’s duties as co-chairman of the board of Space Florida, the state economic development agency devoted to promoting aerospace research, investment and exploration.
In addition to Kottkamp, the audience also heard from Randy Berridge, president of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, a public-private economic development group that has forged partnerships between corporations, local governments in Central Florida and the universities of Florida, Central Florida and South Floirda.
Berridge spoke briefly about the role the “incubators” his group has created within the 23 counties covered by the corridor to create and retain high-tech jobs.
Kottkamp recalled the work of a task force Obama assembled to study the future of space exploration, and how he had scuttled President George W. Bush’s plans for a return manned trip to the moon as a prelude for exploring Mars.
On Wednesday, in fact, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Obama’s soon-to-be-released budget will provide no money for Bush’s Constellation program, which sought to put astronauts back on the moon by 2020.
Rather the administration, which deemed the Constellation initiative as unnecessary, will direct NASA to develop rockets advancing the exploration of Earth’s orbit as well as projects to research climate change and exploration of asteroids and the inner solar system, the Sentinel reported.
Kottkamp blasted Obama’s move as a “huge mistake.”
He observed that space exploration had boosted the national pride and fueled mass production of thousands of items people use every day.
Yet controlling space is also critical to national security, he said.
“We can ill afford to take a back seat to China, Russia, or anyone else when it comes to space,” Kottkamp said.
After quickly touching on some advancements made in the commercialization of space exploration, Kottkamp concluded by saying Ocala was well placed to meet the needs of high-tech employers that seek to set up shop in Central Florida.
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