TAMPA - President Barack Obama says his decision to go public with his approval of gay marriage was a matter of conscience, but it will have consequences.
Hillsborough County Republican Party Chairman Art Wood believes the President will be punished at the polls.
"It's a re-election campaign, so he's raising issues intentionally to enhance his re-election opportunities," said Wood.
Many in the Obama administration don't see it as a winning issue. The President had previously admitted his position on gay marriage was still evolving. It may have been Vice President Joe Biden's statements in support of gay marriage made on television last weekend that forced the President's hand.
Former Democratic Congressman Jim Davis believes it was a matter of conscience.
"I think he felt compelled to go on the record to make it very clear where he stood," said Davis.
But even if it was the right thing for the President to make his position clear, will that position favor the incumbent or Republican challenger Mitt Romney in November?
"I think this will be a net negative to the Democrats because there are some conservative Democrats that are going to move over to the Republican side, and I don't think he's going to pick up any additional votes because of this position," said Wood.
And though some older more conservative Democrats may be put off by the President's position, Davis thinks it's still good politics.
"It's important in terms of people's judgment of his character that he stands up for what he believes in and I think that will serve him well in the long run," said Davis.
Florida is one of 31 states that essentially bans gay marriage in it's constitution. And though the President expressed personal support for gay marriage, he still believes the matter should be decided at the state level, not by the federal government.
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