President Obama shakes hands with Florida Gov. Rick Scott after Air Force One lands at Tampa International Airport on Friday, April 13 2012.
Update: Air Force One touched down at Tampa International Airport just after noon Friday, and Florida Governor Rick Scott was there to greet President Obama.
As the President exited the aircraft and walked onto the tarmac, he met and shook hands with Gov. Scott. Also there to greet Obama were Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.
The President made the Tampa stop before heading off to a Latin American summit. He toured the Port of Tampa and told port workers that his administration was aiming to increase exports for small businesses and companies in the U.S. as a key ingredient of the economic recovery.
"While I'm in Colombia talking with other leaders, I'm going to be thinking about you," Obama told workers after touring a sprawling concrete port ringed by containers and three large cranes. "I want us selling stuff, and I want us putting more Americans back to work."
"A lot of the countries in this region are on the rise. In Latin America alone, over the past decade, tens of millions of people have stepped out of poverty and into the middle class. So they're now in a position to start buying American products," Obama said.
"That means they've got more money to spend, and we want them spending money on American-made goods, so that American businesses can put more Americans back to work."
It was Obama's second trip to Florida this week. The state is expected to be one of the chief election battlegrounds as Obama gears up to face Republican Mitt Romney.
Outside Central and South America, Obama's three-day visit was expected to be closely watched by Latinos, a key voting group in the U.S. With more than 50 million U.S. Hispanics - 21 million of them eligible voters, Obama has an important audience that is especially vital in an election year.
During the brief Tampa detour, Obama outlined an initiative that helps small businesses, including those owned by Latinos, get financing and connect with foreign buyers interested in their products. The president has set a goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2014.
The White House pointed to the area's history of trade with Latin America, saying more than 40 percent of total exports from the Port of Tampa are destined for countries in Latin America.
Such outreach to the U.S.'s southern neighborhood is not unique to Obama. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush before him also "understood that the right Latin American policies and relations could match the right domestic relations toward Latinos and immigrants," said Nelson Cunningham, who served in the Clinton White House as a special adviser on Western Hemisphere affairs.
President Obama took off from Tampa aboard Air Force One at 2:30 p.m.
Tampa, Florida -- It's Friday the 13th, and things are going to get strange in Tampa Bay.
Two powerful men who almost never see eye to eye -- nearly enemies -- will be in the same place.
President Barack Obama and Governor Rick Scott will be at Tampa International Airport at the same time Friday afternoon.
The big deal is what's happening any minute now.
Governor Rick Scott is set to meet with President Barack Obama sometime after noon today.
Years ago, this may not have been a big deal -- a governor and president meeting to talk about what matters to Florida.
But these days, with a political world so polarized, even the prospect of a meeting like this is major.
Remember, Governor Charlie Crist's political career virtually evaporated after he put his arm around the president for a second or two.
President Obama's here to visit the Port of Tampa and talk about trade with Latin America.
Governor Scott has made that issue a centerpiece of his work as governor.
Scott is holding a previously planned "Let's Get to Work Day" here, doing various jobs around the airport.
On 10 News at 9, I said I'd ask the governor why he wasn't meeting with the president.
Once we learned a meeting was planned, I asked the governor whether he'd engage with the president or push away, as he has in the past.
The governor didn't directly answer that.
But he did refer to one of the few bipartisan bills passed by Congress last year, with the president's support.
It locks in trade agreements with two Latin American countries.
"We can't have barriers. The more barriers we have, the less trade we're gonna have. So, it was important last year that we got the free trade agreements done with Panama and Colombia," Scott said.
"That's the reason I've already been to Panama -- I'm going to Colombia this year. But I want more trade, because it's a way to build jobs in our state."
The governor has pushed for those new trade agreements... the expansion of the Port of Miami to handle bigger ships... and he's already gone on trips to drum up trade with Panama and Brazil.
So, despite the pretty dysfunctional political world we're living in, we can hold out hope that something discussed in their likely behind-the-scenes meeting will lead to big benefits for folks here in Florida.
The governor's work day continues through this afternoon.
He'll be spending time on the curb as a skycap and going behind the ticket counters with a couple of airlines.
Grayson Kamm, 10 News. Contributing: The Associated Press