UPDATE: A few hours after this story was written, Gov. Ricketts’ office announced the governor would greet President Obama at Offutt AFB. [See updated story.]
Gov. Pete Ricketts insists politics has nothing to do with his decision not to attend President Barack Obama’s visit to Nebraska tomorrow.
Ricketts, a Republican, has declined an invitation by the White House to attend the event being held on the University of Nebraska-Omaha campus. Obama is a Democrat.
“The White House asked over a month ago about my State of the State (address), but didn’t send me an official invitation until Monday and then with the scheduling conflicts and my own State of the State address coming up on Thursday, I regret that just with the schedules working out it’s just not going to (work out),” Ricketts tells reporters. “Lt. Gov. Foley will be there to greet the president as he gets off the plane and be attending his event, but just previous commitments are regrettably making it so I will not be able to attend.”
The president will make Nebraska his first stop after delivering the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.
Ricketts will not attend to devote attention to the State of the State address to the Unicameral on Thursday morning.
“We got the State of State coming up on Thursday and that requires the budget being in order and all these other proposals ready to go, so it’s absolutely about the timing of it,” Ricketts says.
Ricketts does say he’s pleased Obama is making a trip to Omaha.
“I think it’s a big deal that the president is coming to Nebraska,” Ricketts says. “Presidents typically try to visit all 50 states and it’s our turn now for the president to visit Nebraska.”
AUDIO: Gov. Pete Ricketts defends decision not to attend President Obama’s visit to Nebraska. [:25]